The Russian embassy in the United States has called on Washington to allow Russian media outlets in the US continue their normal daily journalistic routine, avoiding one more possible irritant in bilateral ties.
The Embassy said in a statement that the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was being used selectively and in a politically motivated way, however the pressure on the Russian media was continuing.
“The Russian side has repeatedly stated that making Russian media in the United States change their status to foreign agents could significantly complicate their work and create problems for journalists… We call [on the US side] not to create yet another irritant in bilateral relations and to allow the media to work in a normal way,” the statement said on Tuesday.
The embassy added that the two countries handle the issue of foreign agents differently and that Russian legislation is more universal and not selective.
“Yes, there is a legal norm analogous to the US FARA in Russia. We took into consideration the experience of leading Western countries, while developing it. The main difference of the Russian law from the US one is that it is universal. Experience has proven that the US law is enforced only in a selective and politically motivated manner. This can be proven by the absence of foreign agents from the largest media outlets funded by Western states on the American list,” the statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing that registering under FARA would not affect the news coverage of the Russian media outlets in the United States. However, Nauert added that registration procedures should be launched when a media company suspected in alleged “political activity.”
In September, the editor-in-chief of the RT broadcaster Margarita Simonyan slammed US authorities for their request to specify RT and Sputnik in the United States as foreign agents. Simonyan has emphasized that following the registration under FARA the media outlets might be compelled to disclose corporate and personal data of its employees, thus ultimately disabling the entire broadcaster’s normal work.
Over recent months, RT, as well as Sputnik, have faced pressure over allegations concerning their role in the 2016 US presidential election. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
Earlier this year, US congressmen introduced the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act bill, which would broaden the scope of FARA to include RT by expanding the Justice Department’s authority to investigate attempts to “unlawfully influence the political process.”
Russian officials, including the ones from the Foreign Ministry, have said that Moscow has the right to react with a reciprocal response if Washington chooses to curb the work of Russian media in the United States.