Starting today, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which are funded by the US government, and seven other media outlets affiliated with them will need to label themselves foreign agents. By law, the nine media organizations listed by the Russian justice ministry will have to brand their output as the work of “foreign agents” – and disclose their source of funding. Any “malicious” failure to comply could lead to fines or imprisonment of up to two years. As the BBC points out, a similar law, targeting charities and other civil society groups, already exists.
Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, has also officially banned all US reporters from entering Parliament effective today, according to the head of the Duma’s rules committee.
The move was a retaliation against Washington’s decision to force the US branch of Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT, as well as Sputnik, another Kremlin-funded site, to register as foreign agents. Those decisions followed disclosures by Twitter that it had banned RT from purchasing adds on its platform.
The list of nine media outlets includes websites, radio and television stations run by the two US government-funded broadcasters which target the North Caucasus and Crimea. Some of these broadcast in the Tatar and Bashkir languages.
US intelligence agencies have accused RT and an army of internet trolls allegedly connected to Russian intelligence of “sowing discord” in US society by propagating false or polarizing news stories.
The law will allow Moscow to force US-funded media outlets to brand the news provided to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and to disclose their funding sources.