Russian Federation crafting new law forcing USA media to register as 'foreign agents'

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the

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

"So, the law should provide that media, recognized by foreign agents, indicate the relevant information on these pages", Tolstoy said.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Friday the lower house of parliament will amend the law on foreign agents to include foreign media.

"It contradicts both the democracy and freedom of speech principles".

Russian influence in the US has come under increasing scrutiny in the months following the 2016 presidential elections.

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Russian Federation is poised to list US media outlets as "foreign agents" by extending legislation used to restrict the activities of civil society groups, in retaliation for an American order requiring state broadcaster RT to register for a similar status.

"The American Justice Department has left us with no choice, " RT's editor in chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement posted on the organization's website Thursday. "Since such decisions are being made on USA territory in relation to our TV channels, it will be right for us to respond to these actions".

Russia's embassy in the US denounced the reported Justice Department order.

San Francisco-based social network Twitter has also angered Russian authorities when it accused RT and the Sputnik news outlet of interfering in the 2016 USA election and banned them from buying ads on its network. "Our lawyers say that if we don't register as a foreign agent, the director of our company in America could be arrested, and the accounts of the company could be seized. It deprives us of fair competition with other worldwide channels, which are not registered as foreign agents".

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RT began operations in 2005 under the brand Russia Today, claiming to present the Russian view on global news and to cover stories ignored by mainstream Western news media.

"... While RT is able to work and distribute its content freely in the U.S., RFE/RL has lost all of its broadcast affiliates in Russian Federation due to administrative pressure, it has no access to cable TV, and its reporters are beaten and harassed", Levison said in an emailed comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled that he would sign such a law last month, when he told a conference of foreign policy scholars that Russia would respond immediately and reciprocally to "any efforts to limit our mass media".

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, said the Parliament could back such a legislation as early as next week, arguing that some USA media were attempting to turn public opinion in Russia, Reuters reported.

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