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Russia ready to lift restrictions on 'foreign agent' mass media if US does same — lawmaker

December 11, 2017, 11:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko expressed disappointment that Russia had to take retaliatory measures

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MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. Russia is ready to abolish the tit-for-tat measures imposed against US media outlets recognized as foreign agents if the US lifts its restrictions for Russian media outlets, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko said on Monday in an interview with RBC TV.

"If the Unites States revokes the specified measures, then we, for our part, will do the same: lift all restrictions in kind," Matvienko said. The Federation Council speaker expressed disappointment that Russia had to take retaliatory measures.

"We were too sensitive to this situation, and this is understandable. Why did RT and Sputnik - that proclaim absolute freedom, export of democracy to other countries and say that freedom of speech is above all - receive a discriminatory status in the US? Indeed, neither RT nor Sputnik violated the common norms of law of the United States. We certainly could not but respond to the direct impairment of the rights of the Russian media outlets," Matvienko said.

She reiterated that Russia listed among mass media - foreign agents only the news outlets financed by the US government or a US agency as a government structure. "We reciprocated. That said, we do not prohibit work of the named media outlets, but just restrict their activity by certain conditions, just like the ones imposed by the US on the Russian news outlets," Matvienko said.

The foreign agents law

On November 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments that enshrine the norms on media outlets performing the functions of foreign agents in the Russian legislation. The law provisions enable to recognize a news outlet as a "foreign agent" if it is financed from abroad.

The norms adopted in Russia came as a response to the demands placed by the US Department of Justice to the American branch of RT to register as a foreign agent in the United States. RT reporters also lost their Capitol Hill credentials. The State Duma intends to withdraw credentials for the US news outlets recognized as foreign agents in response, and the Federation Council may do the same.

On December 5, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized nine media outlets as "foreign agents." These are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, (RFE/RL), Current Time TV, Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkir service (Azatliq Radiosi), Sibir.Realii, Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii, Krym.Realii and project Faktograf. Reporters from these media outlets have been barred from entering the Federation Council since December 5.

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