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US opened Pandora’s box in situation around media — Russian diplomat

November 22, 2017, 1:50 UTC+3 VIENNA

Earlier, an OSCE official said branding media entities as foreign agents was "a dangerous practice"

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Russia's Representative in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Alexander Lukashevich

Russia's Representative in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Alexander Lukashevich

© Ilya Pitalyov/TASS

VIENNA, November 22. /TASS/. Russia was not the one that instigated the hysterical Russophobic witch-hunt targeting the Russian news media and that is why it cannot ignore this outrage against Russian media outlets in the US," Representative in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE], Alexander Lukashevich said on Tuesday.

He issued a commentary to the reaction that Harlem Desir, the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media came up with regarding the status of foreign mass media in Russia and the US.

“Branding media entities as ‘foreign agents’ is a dangerous practice, as it can narrow the space for freedom of the media,” Desir said last week.

"I call on both the Unites States and the Russian Federation to reconsider and refrain from requiring media entities to register as ‘foreign agents’", he said, describing both countries’ moves as "not acceptable".

Moscow has pointed to Desir’s stance and noted it fully shares his willingness to ensure transparent and nondiscriminatory conditions for all media from third countries in the US and in any other country in the swathes of the OSCE likewise, Lukashevich said.

In this connection, he recalled "[…] Russia would like to call Mr. Desir’s attention to the undeniable fact that it has always sought to ensure maximally convenient conditions for all the foreign news media."

"However, we are forced to reciprocate in the wake of overtly repressive measures against the Russian media and particularly RT channel, which was compelled to accept the status of a foreign agent under the threat of a whole range of sanctions," Lukashevich stressed.

"We strongly object to an escalation of the situation that may victimize the interest of the professional community of journalists but we cannot allow this disgusting arbitrariness against our media in the US without a proper response," he said.

"It was not us who set off a hysterical Russophobic witch-hunt that is victimizing the Russian news resources among others," Lukashevich pointed out.

"And it is not us who de facto trample on the fundamental principle of free speech under the pretext of halting a propaganda machine," he indicated. "When the US Administration that opened that Pandora’s box decides to shut it, we will be glad to copy from their example."

"As part of forming the legislative grounds for possible reciprocal measures to moves by third countries, and primarily to the US, whenever they decide to block the Russian media, the State Duma passed amendments to the Law on Mass Media and the Law on Information," Lukashevich said.

"In line with the amendments, a foreign organization that publishes and circulates informational content in Russia and gets funding from abroad can be assigned the status of foreign agents," he said, adding that in this case they would fall under the requirements of the Law on NGOs performing the functions of foreign agents.

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