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11 November 2017, 12:59 | Rufus Hill
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the"Russia Today television channel in Moscow in 2013
USA government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) said last month Moscow had threatened to brand their Russian language service projects "foreign agents" in retaliation for US pressure on RT.
"There is an understanding that the practical phase of putting these retaliatory measures into effect will begin next week", Zakharova was quoted as saying by state news agency Tass.
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Friday the lower house of parliament will amend the law on foreign agents to include foreign media.
Amid continued controversy about Russia's role in trying to influence last year's US presidential election, Twitter last month banned advertising by RT and by the state-funded Sputnik news agency.
"As of today, there is understanding that a practical phase of these response measures (in respect of US media in Russian Federation over demands the RT broadcaster register itself as a foreign agent in the U.S.) will begin next week".
Russian lawmakers raced Friday to draft measures requiring USA media outlets and possibly social media networks to register as foreign agents, saying they could be adopted as early as next week.
Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of RT, said in a statement that she regarded the requirement as contrary to law and the company meant to challenge it in court.
She said the demands contradicted both democracy and freedom of speech. The restrictions were criticized by the USA and the European Union.
Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy speaker of the State Duma, suggested that one possibility is that media outlets affected by the new law could be required to include a statement identifying themselves as foreign agents on their social media pages. "Our lawyers say that if we don't register as a foreign agent, the director of our company in America could be arrested, and the accounts of the company could be seized". The decision came in the wake of investigations into Kremlin attempts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.
In a statement posted to its Facebook account Thursday night, the Russian Embassy in the United States said the Justice Department's decision "created a risky precedent".
The Kremlin has even taken aim at privately owned CNN, which has been the subject of criticism from Russia, for what the government views as anti-Russian reporting.
"The US Department of Justice wheeled out a cannibalistic Monday deadline", she tweeted.
"Blatant pressure on the Russian mass media confirms that the United States pursues the course of deliberately hurting our relations", the statement said.
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