Russia designates 9 US media as foreign agents

nsnbc : Russia’s Ministry of Justice, on Tuesday, designated nine U.S. media outlets as foreign agents. The measure came in “retaliation” after the U.S. designated the Russian State funded Russia Today (RT) USA as a foreign agent. Independent journalists and media fear the battle of the giants will make it more difficult for independent and “unorthodox” journalists and media while major State and corporate-funded giants are likely to continue unabated.

Voice of America_VOA_USA_LogoRussia listed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Voice of America (VOA), and several other affiliates as “foreign agents. RFE/RL president Tom Kent said in a statement that the Russian Ministry of Justice indicated the new designation will involve more “limitations” on the work of its company in Russia.

He added that “the full nature of these limitations is unknown,” but vowed that the network remains “committed to continuing our journalistic work, in the interests of providing accurate and objective news to our Russian-speaking audiences.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in November empowering the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents” and impose sanctions against them. Russian officials have called the new legislation a “symmetrical response” to what they describe as U.S. pressure on Russian media.

On November 13, Russian state-funded television channel RT registered as a foreign agent in the United States under a decades-old law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said FARA is aimed at promoting transparency but does not restrict the television network’s operation in the United States. The U.S. State Department has condemned Russia’s law, saying it obstructs press freedom.

“New Russian legislation that allows the Ministry of Justice to label media outlets as ‘foreign agents’ and to monitor or block certain internet activity presents yet another threat to free media in Russia,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement last month.

Independent media and journalists fear that “the battle of State and Corporate media giants” will result in an environment conducive of censorship and monopolization of media while major media and propaganda outlets will hardly be affected by the new restrictions at all.

Russia has already legislation that forces independent bloggers and media sites with more than 5,000 daily readers to register as a media. Submission to registration obliges the journalist or media to adhere to the same rules and regulations as major media while “non” of the privileges major media enjoy are being conferred upon them.

CH/L nsnbc 05.12.2017

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