• Lexi Ponder

Russia issues threats to U.S. media

On Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in an interview on Russian television that her country could crack down on U.S. media outlets, such as CNN, which operate in Russia. These outlets could be categorized as "foreign agents, essentially identifying them as hostile intelligence outfits," according to the New York Times.

"Russia is working on practical steps in response to U.S. government pressure on Russian-government owned media operating in the U.S," according to CNN

However, Zakharova did not directly say which outlets would be targeted or what their actions would be. According to CNN, last month the Russian officials delivered "letters to news organizations in Russian that are backed by the U.S. government, warning them of possible 'restrictions.'"

According to Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament, "Tit-for-tat steps" will be enforced and will give the same restrictions that Americans are trying to enforce on the Russian media. These comments are, according to CNN, the most recent "saber rattling" from the Russian government on American media operation in Russia.

The Russian officials say it's because of the request from the Justice Department that Russian state-funded outlets RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik had to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the U.S.

RT's network is currently available on cable in the U.S., and Russia's Sputnik has a FM radio station in the U.S. The U.S. has helped fund news organizations in Russia like Radio Free Europe and Current; these outlets are only accessible via the internet, not on cable or radio.

According to CNN, RT said that the Department of Justice gave them a deadline in October to register, but it purposely missed the deadline as it tried to go against the forced registration. "Individuals or organizations that registration under FARA are asked to disclose their funding, operations and other information"; however, they are allowed to go on with their work.

RT has said that the new deadline given by the Department is to be Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, and that it will register but will try to challenge the Department's request in court. The editor-in-Chief, Margarita Simonyan, says in the article on the Russian version of RT's website that the "DOJ left us no choice," and RT's lawyers said that the head of its American operations can be detained, and the company accounts can be seized if it doesn’t comply.

CNN also reported that federal investigators are "looking into whether the Russian government-funded outlets were part of Russia's influence campaign aimed at the 2016's presidential election."