Russian Federation to amend law to classify media as 'foreign agents'

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"As of today, there is understanding that a practical phase of these response measures (in respect of U.S. media in Russian Federation over demands the RT broadcaster register itself as a foreign agent in the US) will begin next week". "This requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts both the principles of democracy and freedom of speech", she said.

"It deprives us of fair competition with other worldwide channels, which are not registered as foreign agents", she was quoted as saying by RT.

Last month, social media giant Twitter took the unprecedented step of banning RT and Sputnik advertisements in response to allegations they were part of a Russian effort to spread misinformation during the 2016 election. It would require RT to label anything it produces - making it clear its reports are distributed on behalf of the Russian state.

Russian lawmakers raced Friday to draft measures requiring United States media outlets and possibly social media networks to register as foreign agents, saying they could be adopted as early as next week.

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 US 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".

The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the broadcaster's American division to register under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) before Nov.13.

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"The US Department of Justice wheeled out a cannibalistic Monday deadline", she tweeted.

In its January report, US intelligence called RT "the Kremlin's principal worldwide propaganda outlet", saying it was part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine", which had "contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging".

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

The assessment also said RT America "has positioned itself as a domestic US 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".

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

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