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Russia's RT America registers as 'foreign agent' in USA - editor

14 November 2017, 02:24 | Taylor George

The studio control room of Russia Today Zurab Javakhadze TASS

The studio control room of Russia Today  Zurab Javakhadze  TASS

USA intelligence agencies said in a report in January that the television station, which broadcasts on cable in the United States, is "Russia's state-run propaganda machine" and that it contributed to the Kremlin's campaign to interfere with last year's presidential election in favor of Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.

Fraying relations between Washington and Moscow mean that a further escalation could follow with the Russian foreign ministry refusing to rule out the expulsion of Moscow-based foreign correspondents from publishers such as The Washington Post and New York Times. Foreign media companies are generally exempt from registration unless they are controlled by a foreign government.

RT complained that it acquiesced to USA demands to register as a "foreign agent" only under duress, fearful that its director of channel operations in the U.S. could be arrested if it failed to comply.

After that report, the Department of Justice insisted that RT America comply with registration requirements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

"Between the criminal case and registration, we chose the latter". RT said it complied with a USA demand to make the filing by November 13 or face prosecution. The draft amendments, which will expand Russia's norms on the so-called foreign agents to media outlets, should be prepared by the State Duma by Tuesday morning, and are expected to be passed this week, the source in the lower house told Sputnik on Monday.

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Intelligence agencies have suspected RT of meddling in the 2016 presidential election between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to Reuters. "And congratulations to American freedom of speech and anyone who still believes in it", Simonyan tweeted in Russian.

FARA requires detailed disclosures of the activities of individuals and organizations that attempt to influence USA policy or public opinion for foreign governments and government-controlled organizations.

The assessment also said RT America "has positioned itself as a domestic United States channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian government, " but behind the scenes, "the Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging due to their ideological beliefs".

Russian Federation could hit back at all foreign media and not just USA -based outlets in retaliation, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday, with CNN, VOA, Radio Liberty and Deutsche Welle expected to face restrictions.



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