Tuesday, 12 December, 2017

Russian ambassador to United States voices support to RT journalists

Melinda Barton | 14 November, 2017, 02:25

The laws regulating foreign agent status for mass media in Russian Federation could be amended by the lower house of parliament as early as this Wednesday, Deputy Duma Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy has told the press.

RT complained that it acquiesced to USA demands to register as a "foreign agent" only under duress, fearful that its director of channel operations in the U.S. could be arrested if it failed to comply.

"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", Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente said in a statement Tuesday.

Margarita Simonyan said Monday on RT's Russian-language website that "between a criminal case and the registration we have chosen the latter", adding on a sarcastic note that "we congratulate the American freedom of speech and those who still believe in it on that".

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente asserted Monday that this is proper enforcement of FARA.

A January assessment by USA intelligence agencies described RT America TV as "a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, [which] has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties".

After filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the network must disclose relationships and activities, presumably on behalf of Russian Federation, to the Justice Department.

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.

Intelligence agencies have suspected RT of meddling in the 2016 presidential election between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to Reuters. Under the act, RT will be required to disclose financial information.

"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", Boente said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has previously warned the U.S. that any hostile moves against RT would trigger reciprocal measures in regards to American media working in Russia.

FARA requires foreign governments, political parties and the lobbyists and public relations firms they hire in the United States to register with the Department of Justice.

The United States and Russian Federation are engaged in a back-and-forth over "foreign agent" registration. FARA was first passed in 1938 in an effort to combat German propaganda efforts leading up to World War II.