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Russia Adds U.S. News Site RFE/RL to ‘Foreign Agent’ Roster

RFE/RL said it recently filed the paperwork to register its Russian-language service as a “foreign agent” with Russia’s tax authorities. Mikhail Pochuyev / TASS

Russia has added the legal entity of U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news organization to its list of “foreign agent” media Wednesday under a controversial law that requires listed outlets to disclose their funding sources.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in November 2017, allowing the “foreign agent” designation to be placed on news outlets that receive funding from abroad. Russian lawmakers said they acted in response to U.S. pressure for Kremlin-funded media to register under anti-propaganda laws, a claim that RFE/RL’s parent company called “severely” misguided.

RFE/RL’s Russian legal entity becomes the 11th news organization to be added to Russia’s roster of “foreign agents.” 

The list is entirely made up of RFE/RL’s Russian-language regional branches and other U.S.-funded outlets, including the Voice of America broadcaster and their joint project Current Time TV.

RFE/RL said it had filed the paperwork to register its Russian-language service, known as Radio Svoboda, as a “foreign agent” with Russia’s tax authorities last month.

Russia has gradually expanded its “foreign agent” law targeting NGOs since 2012 to include “undesirable” organizations and media outlets. A December 2019 law also expanded the “foreign agent” label to encompass individual journalists and bloggers. 

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