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MOSCOW, October 5. /TASS/. Russian law allows for retaliatory measures in response to restrictive measures against the Russian television channel RT operating in the US, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, speaking at an extended meeting of a Federation Council working group on monitoring of foreign activities aimed to interfere in Russian domestic affairs.
"We can clearly see restrictions against the RT television channel in the US. So, the existing legislative mechanisms make it possible to apply similar retaliatory measures," she said. "This is everything that [RT Editor-in-Chief] Margarita Simonyan talked about, for example intention to oblige RT to share personal data and provide professional information both about employees and guests, people who are cooperating with the TV channel, introduce on-screen graphics in any broadcasts, including a ban on broadcasting - all of this may be applied as a retaliatory measure to American mass media under Russian law."
"I would like to quote the Russian law on mass media, Article 55. Here is a direct quotation from the law, "The government of the Russian Federation may set retaliatory restrictions against mass media correspondents of those countries that have special restrictions on execution of professional activities by mass media journalists registered in the Russian Federation," she continued. "The law does not say that it affects only media outlets that are mostly state-funded or privately-funded, so it can be applied to any mass media in this or that country that face restrictive measures."
"For accuracy purposes, I would like to refer to point 23 of the rules of accreditation that says that the Russian Foreign Ministry may take retaliatory measures against mass media correspondents of those countries in which restrictions against Russian journalists are operating. That is, the Foreign Ministry has full authority to do so," the spokeswoman added.
She stressed that the issue does not concern censure or restriction of mass media freedom. "It is essential to us to confirm our adherence to the freedom of speech and impossibility to restrict the activities of mass media and foreign correspondents who are working here," she specified.
"We have carried out our expert study into the issue. It based itself on delving into US law, specifically all core US legislative decrees that regulate the activity of journalists, including foreign ones," the diplomat explained.
"The assessment by the foreign ministry is definite here - we see an objective violation of US national legislation and its principles of freedom of speech," she said.
According to Zakharova, developments unfolding around RT violate not just those principles of freedom of speech that the US trumpets, but also runs counter to those that they actively export. "This is the backbone of American foreign policy, imposing it here, recommending it there, and sometimes by any means introducing these very principles, which they grossly violate within their own country regarding a specific Russian TV channel," Zakharova pointed out.
Simonyan earlier reported that the RT television channel operating in the US has to recognize itself a foreign agent before October 17. In case it fails to do so, serious measures, up to arrests, will be taken against the channel staff members.