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Russia's Justice Ministry Moves in on 'Foreign Agent' Media

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Russia’s Justice Ministry has reportedly signaled to two U.S.-funded news outlets they may be added to a list of media "foreign agents."

Lawmakers on Wednesday amended two laws that could require foreign news outlets to disclose their status, report their activities and be subjected to financial inspections. The move comes amid escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russian state media’s role in U.S. election meddling.

The Interfax news agency reported Wednesday that the Justice Ministry had notified the U.S.-funded Voice of America (VOA) radio station that it could be included on the registry.

In its letter, the ministry said that "since there are signs of fulfillment of the functions of a foreign agent in Voice of America's activity, restrictions stipulated by Russian law may apply," Interfax reported.

A source in the Justice Ministry told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday that Radio Liberty’s Crimean, Tatar-Bashkir and Siberian regional projects have also been sent “foreign agent notifications.”

The Current Time television network, which is funded by the U.S. government, published its letter from the Justice Ministry Wednesday warning that it could face restrictions under the new amendments.

According to the new laws, the foreign agent label could apply if a news outlet is either registered abroad, receives foreign funding or gets paid by a Russian company that is itself financed from abroad, the State Duma announced on Tuesday. 

President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the amendments into law by the end of the month.

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