Russian State Duma to Draft Bill Including Media in Foreign Agents Law

The filing, on behalf of T&R Productions, the company that operates RT, said it had received payments from a foreign principal identified as ANO TV-Novosti, a Russian media company. It said its programs, which include news, talk shows and entertainment broadcasts, "are not aimed to primarily benefit any foreign government or political party". In January, the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency released a declassified report alleging that RT had sought to undermine the US elections with "consistently negative" coverage of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

In its January 2016 assessment of Russian interference, the intelligence community said RT was part of the Kremlin's influence campaign to sway the last U.S. election.

RT, which is headquartered in Moscow and was formerly known as Russia Today, is accused by the US government of being a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin. The two countries targeted each other in tit-for-tat diplomatic measures after America toughened sanctions on Russian Federation for election meddling. 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.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian broadcaster RT, meets with journalists, with the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour seen in the background, in Moscow, Russia, October 17, 2016.

"Faced with a choice between a criminal case and registration, we opted for the latter", a report on RT homepage quoted the channel's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan. "We congratulate American freedom of speech and all who still believe in it". Under the act, RT will be required to disclose financial information.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian telecoms watchdog, has also requested that it be given exceptional powers to block the websites of foreign media outlets and those of non-governmental organisations without first having to seek a court order.

He went on to call the Justice Department's move "an obviously discriminatory measure" and that it is aimed at media that are "inconvenient" for US authorities.

"Americans have a right to know who is acting in the United States to influence the USA government or public on behalf of foreign principals", Dana Boente, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said.

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