‘Re­stric­tion on Rus­sian me­dia in US is at­tack on free speech’

Krem­lin-backed broad­caster Rus­sia To­day has been told to reg­is­ter in the US as a ‘for­eign agent’.

The Sunday Guardian - - World - DANANG, VIET­NAM REUTERS

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said on Satur­day that Rus­sia would re­spond in kind to what he said were Wash­ing­ton’s mea­sures to re­strict the free­dom of speech of Rus­sian me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions op­er­at­ing on US soil. Putin said, how­ever, that pos­si­ble plans to re­tal­i­ate by declar­ing US me­dia op­er­at­ing in Rus­sia as for­eign agents may be “a little too harsh,” and that the Krem­lin was still for­mu­lat­ing its ex­act re­sponse.

Krem­lin-backed broad­caster Rus­sia To­day has been told to reg­is­ter in the US as a “for­eign agent.” US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials say the broad­caster tried to in­flu­ence last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on the Krem­lin’s be­half, an allegation the broad­caster and the Krem­lin deny.

On Fri­day, the pro-Krem­lin speaker of the lower house of Rus­sia’s par­lia­ment, Vy­ach­eslav Volodin, said leg­is­la­tion could be in­tro­duced next week des­ig­nat­ing US and some other for­eign me­dia op­er­at­ing in Rus­sia as for­eign agents. Speak­ing to re­porters at the end of the APEC Sum­mit, Putin said: “An at­tack on our me­dia in the United States is an at­tack on free­dom of speech, with­out a doubt. We’re dis­ap­pointed.”

“What is be­ing dis­cussed in the State Duma (lower house of par­lia­ment), I saw it yes­ter­day, it might be a little too harsh but it’s nat­u­ral be­cause at the level of the leg­isla­tive arm you of­ten hear ex­treme views, harsh judg­ment and tough pro­pos­als.”

“But we will have to for­mu­late some kind of re­sponse and it will mir­ror,” the mea­sures adopted by U.S. au­thor­i­ties to­wards Rus­sian me­dia in the United States, Putin said.

“I want to draw your at­ten­tion to the fact that there is no — and there can’t be — con­fir­ma­tion that Rus­sian me­dia med­dled in elec­tion cam­paigns,” Putin said.

Be­ing des­ig­nated as “for­eign agents” in Rus­sia would oblige for­eign me­dia to sub­mit reg­u­lar re­ports to the au­thor­i­ties about their staffing and their sources of fund­ing.

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