MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. The demand of the US Department of Justice that the RT TV channel register itself as a foreign agent is groundless, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said addressing a Duma plenary meeting on Friday.
"It is groundless. Not a single specific claim has been brought against the channel, besides, Russia’s Sputnik agency has also been facing similar groundless pressure," he said. "The US authorities are openly exerting pressure on the Russian media outlets, the trend has reached internet platforms and social media, so our news outlets are being deprived of the opportunity to develop and expand their audience," Volodin added.
"It means that the issue is very serious and we should thoroughly asses it in order to make a decision," the Duma speaker pointed out. "As you know, dozens of the US media outlets operate on Russia’s territory, including online platforms, which, as we said at a meeting of the Committee for Information Policy, interfere in our domestic affairs, while directly and indirectly receiving funding from the US government," Volodin said.
"Today we need to determine the right measures that we should take in our country in order to protect our information space from any interference and pressure," the Duma speaker noted.
The US Department of Justice earlier demanded that the US branch of RT brand itself a foreign agent before November 13.
On Thursday, RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan said that the channel would have to implement the demand. "Lawyers say that if we fail to register as a foreign agent, then the head of our US branch may get arrested, as well as the company’s accounts, so under such conditions, the company will not be able to operate," she said.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the situation saying that RT was a victim of prejudice towards Russian media. The Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, said that the current legislation allowed for declaring foreign media outlets operating in Russia as foreign agents or undesirable organizations, so Moscow was ready to give a tough tit-for-tat response in case Washington continued to press its unacceptable demands.