Russia has formally designated US government-sponsored Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as “foreign agents” in response to a similar move by Washington to restrict the work of Russian media.
The Russian Justice Ministry formally listed the VOA and RFE/RL as well as seven separate Russian- or local-language news outlets run by RFE/RL as “fulfilling the role of foreign agents” on Tuesday.
The designation makes the news outlets subject to the same rules that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organizations under a 2012 law.
According to the law, they can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make certain they comply with the rules. Any information published or broadcast by these media outlets to Russian audiences also must include a mention of their “foreign agent” designation.
The affected outlets have to apply for inclusion in a government register, submit regular reports on their sources of funding, on their objectives, on how they spend their money, and who their managers are, as well.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 25 signed a bill into law that allowed authorities to register foreign media outlets as “foreign agents.” The law had earlier passed both houses of the parliament.
The move against American media is part of Moscow’s “mirror” response to a US congressional committee move against Russian international television network, RT, late last month.
The US accused Moscow of using Russian media organizations to influence the US presidential election last year. Russia has denied the charge.