New East Digital Archive

Russia names US media companies as ‘foreign agents’

Russia names US media companies as 'foreign agents'
Image: Wing1990hk under a CC licence

5 December 2017

The Russian government has named nine US media outlets as “foreign agents” in a tit-for-tat battle critics say could threaten press freedom.

The outlets include Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA), both of which are funded by the US government. Seven other regional services linked to the companies were also included on the list.

The Russian Justice Ministry released the names in a statement on Tuesday morning, but did not specify any extra restrictions on the outlets’ work.

A similar law affecting foreign charities requires organisations to submit to extra inspections, release detailed information on how they are funded, and clearly identify themselves as “foreign agents”.

Other lawmakers have proposed banning reporters from the outlets from the Russian parliament building.

The law was rushed through the Russian parliament following news that Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today) would be required to register as a “foreign agent” by the US government. The outlet has been accused of running a “propaganda campaign” to influence American voters during last year’s presidential elections.

In a statement, RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said that the broadcaster was aware of the announcement but had “received no details of what this designation may mean for us”.

“Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a journalism company engaged in professional news coverage of Russia and other countries. We remain committed to accurate and comprehensive journalism,” he said.