Russia Designates U.S.-Backed Broadcasters as ‘Foreign Agents’

The Russian government declared the broadcasters Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty “foreign agents” on Dec 5, in retaliation for a similar action against Russian state-run news outlets in the United States. The Kremlin-financed television station RT America and its affiliated news agency, Sputnik, complied in Nov with an order from the Justice Department that they registered as foreign agents. This followed a report by American intelligence agencies in January that concluded that the Kremlin was using RT America as a tool “to undermine faith in the U.S. government and fuel political protest.” Russian lawmakers and government representatives were infuriated by the decision, rushing through the retaliatory legislation within days. President Vladimir V. Putin signed the law at the end of November. But earlier fears that the law might extend the registration requirement to major Western news organization were allayed when the act made no mention of them. Andrei Klimov, a senator, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday that the list would not be expanded unless the American authorities took similar action on their side. “Our attitude toward the American media is formed by the truly hostile actions of the American side toward our media,” Aleksei K. Pushkov, a member of the upper chamber of Parliament, told the news agency Interfax. “If the U.S. will reconsider the decisions it made recently, then the Russian decisions can be reconsidered, too.” In addition to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the Justice Ministry designated seven subsidiaries of Radio Free Europe as “fulfilling the role of foreign agents,” according to a statement on its website.


Russia Designates U.S.-Backed Broadcasters as ‘Foreign Agents’