RT becomes a "foreign agent"

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alexei Nikolsky AP

Sputnik's USA editor-in-chief, Mindia Gavasheli said in a statement that these revelations are unsurprising "since the atmosphere of hysteria in relation to everything that belongs to Russia has been created in the country, and everything with the word "Russian" is seen through the prism of spy mania".

Russian Federation said Thursday it could begin next week to take measures against U.S. media outlets working in Russian Federation in retaliation for a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to make the Kremlin-funded RT news agency register as a foreign agent.

The Justice Department had first called for RT America to register as a foreign agent in September.

Under the USA law, Nauert said, registration "is simply triggered when an entity or an individual engages in political activity".

In the United States, there is a law on foreign agents, which allows to restrict freedom of speech and dissemination of information. "It deprives us of fair competition with other global channels, which are not registered as foreign agents". In short, in this situation the company would not be able to work.

"If they take control of [Russian] employees' personal data, we will take control of the corresponding foreign media employees' personal data", Russian Senator Oleg Morozov said.

RT disputes that it is an agent of the Kremlin, arguing that it merely offers alternatives to mainstream news coverage.

Russian Deputy State Duma Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy explained that "the USA has restrictions on the activity of Russian mass media in social networks" and in terms of a tit-for-tat response this ban may also concern social networks.

"We are journalists, and mostly Americans work here", the statement continued.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the "Russia Today" television channel in Moscow in 2013.

Russian news media and social media actors have come under scrutiny after US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia sought to interfere with the USA presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

Russian Federation is threatening action against USA media outlets operating there as soon as next week.

It also said that 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". The Justice Department declined to comment to The Associated Press.

The Russian law on foreign agents in recent years has been used on nongovernmental groups that do not toe the Kremlin party line.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that this "will have serious legal consequences" and would "compromise the safety of [RT] employees". The organizations have disputed the decision. Such a registration would require any reporting to be labeled as being financed or influenced by the Russian government, among other restrictions.

It's not entirely clear how this label would apply to US media and how it would potentially affect their work, or how many media outlets would be affected.

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