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US should remove Russian media from its foreign agent list - Russian embassy

State Department Spokesperson said that the US condemns "the selective targeting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America under Russia’s law on ‘foreign agent’ media outlets"

WASHINGTON, July 9. /TASS/. The United States should remove Russian media outlets from the US list of foreign agents and stop persecuting them, the Russian Embassy in the US said in a statement on Sunday.

"Washington is not particularly enthusiastic when the rules established by it for others begin to be applied to it," the embassy said commenting on the dissatisfaction expressed by the US Department of State on Friday with the Russian Ministry of Justice’s decision to recognize Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA) as foreign agents. "The Department of State is discontented with the fact that only those media outlets, which are financed from the US budget have been added to Russia’s list of foreign agents. It is easy to rectify the situation. The fundamental premise is to stop persecuting Russian media outlets in the US and remove them from the US foreign agent list."

According to the embassy, "the State Department’s reaction to possible future legislative restrictions concerning its meddling in Russia’s domestic affairs is quite predictable." "Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars earmarked to promote American interests under the guise of ‘liberal’ values need to be spent one way or another. That said, Washington has neither moral nor legal rights to demand anything from other countries, since interference in their domestic affairs, in breach of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, is the United States’ official policy," the Russian embassy stressed.

"Reluctance to play by the common rules caused the US to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council and, prior to that, UNESCO, one of whose functions is to protect journalists’ rights," the statement reads. "The extremist Ukrainian resource Myrotvorets located on US servers, which contains personal data of thousands of Western journalists who visited eastern Ukraine, continues to run smoothly."

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press statement on Friday that the US condemns "the selective targeting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA) under Russia’s law on ‘foreign agent’ media outlets." According to Nauert, "on July 3 the State Duma [lower house of Russia’s parliament - TASS] took another step toward approving legislation that would extend the ‘foreign agent’ designation from media outlets to individual persons taking part in the creation of materials for media outlets." "This bill could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work," she added.

Foreign agent media law

In November 2017, Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) approved a bill on foreign media outlets acting as foreign agents. President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law on November 25.

The document provides the Russian government with an opportunity to designate a media outlet as a foreign agent if it receives funding from abroad. After acquiring this status, these media outlets will be subject to the restrictions and responsibilities, which are currently envisaged for non-governmental organizations labeled as foreign agents. They will also face a similar responsibility for such NGOs for breaching this legislation.

This move came in response to the demand by the US Department of Justice to RT America, a US branch of the Russian television company, to register as a foreign agent in the United States.