Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, warned that Russia will not tolerate any US interference into Russian-run Media that is hosted in the US. Zakharova claims that Russian Media outlets follow International Statutes and Freedom of Speech laws. If the Russian Funded media outlets are not going to be treated equally then there will be a Russian response in kind.
This warning comes after earlier this month, RT, a widely syndicated Russian government-run network was contacted by the DOJ. The Department of Justice sent the network a letter informing them that they would have to register for FARA. FARA, Foreign Agents Registration Act, is intended to prevent foreign propaganda from affecting the American People. The DOJ has yet to comment on the letter.
Zakharova feels that this a politically charged enforcement and violates the US Constitution’s Freedom of Speech.
Though Zakharova did not detail what the retaliation would look like, Russia has already ordered the United States to cut hundreds of staff from its diplomatic posts in Russia. Many American media outlets have bureaus and journalists stationed in Russia. The American-government backed news network Voice of America also has a Russian-language service there.
RT America had also been previously singled out in a January intelligence community report for the impact it may have had on the 2016 election. The report said RT “conducts strategic messaging for [the] Russian government” and “seeks to influence politics, fuel discontent in the U.S.” The report also cited Sputnik as “another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content.”
Federal investigators are also reportedly looking into whether sites such as RT and Sputnik were part of Russia’s influence campaign on the U.S. 2016 election. Yahoo News has separately reported that the FBI interviewed a former Sputnik correspondent about his work at the website.