MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. Moscow will not leave the crackdown on its mass media outlets abroad unretaliated, Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications, Aleksey Volin, said on Tuesday.
"We will not leave unpunished a single attempt to discriminate against or offend our mass media," he said. "We will be very resentful in this respect. We may take proportionate measures or we may take asymmetric measures. But we will certainly make a response."
Volin said Russia would not disclose its plans beforehand.
"We would like to make a surprise for our partners. We are quite imaginative and resourceful," he said.
The State Duma on November 15 unanimously voted for a law making it possible to treat a foreign mass media outlet as a foreign agent, if it receives funding from abroad. As soon as it is given the status of a foreign agent, the mass media will have to abide by all restrictions and duties currently applicable only to non-government organizations registered as foreign agents. For all legal violations they will bear the same responsibility as such NGOs. Technically all rules were established during the second reading of a bill that originally concerned a different but related subject: extrajudicial blocking of websites of organizations outlawed in Russia.
The State Duma’s response followed when the US Department of Justice demanded the RT America television channel - a US affiliate of the Russian broadcaster - should have itself registered as a foreign agent in the United States.