Russia's Justice Ministry has said it will target U.S.- registered media operating in the country, following reports that several Russian outlets could be labeled "foreign agents," the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday.
Moscow has been threatening reciprocal steps to what it views as Washington’s restrictions on Russian state media outlets RT America and Sputnik International. The Justice Ministry warned three U.S.-funded outlets based in Russia this week that they could be branded a “foreign agent,” a label curbing their activity.
Current Time TV, a 24-hour network produced by U.S. funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in partnership with Voice of America, said it had received the ministry’s warning. Similar letters were received by RFE/RL's Idel.Realii and Krym.Realii projects.
On Wednesday, Interfax quoted the ministry’s press service as saying that Russia’s restrictions will affect media outlets registered in the United States. “They are ‘mirror measures’ to the harassment of Russian media in the United States and do not affect the mass media registered in other countries,” the press service was quoted as saying.
On Oct. 8, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that American outlets in Russia could expect retaliation if pressure on RT continued in the United States.
Russian senators, meanwhile, are reportedly proposing that the number of U.S. media organizations be cut to equal the amount of Russian outlets there.
Washington has requested that the Kremlin-backed RT America adhere to a 1930s foreign agent registration law amid concerns over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.