Moscow plans retaliation to "US pressure on Russian media"

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the

US intelligence agencies said in January that RT and the news agency Sputnik, along with a network of "quasi-government trolls", interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election on behalf of the Russian government by pushing anti-American propaganda, claims that RT denies.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said on Thursday Russia was considering hitting the USA for the deadline.

FARA requires registration "if an agent disseminates informational materials, by mail or by any means or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce, and intends the materials to be disseminated among two or more persons".

The 2012 Russian law now applies only to non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding and are considered to engage in political activity. "This requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts both the principles of democracy and freedom of speech", she said.

Zakharova did not specify which outlets would be targeted or what the actions would be.

The threat of retaliation against US media from the Kremlin is the latest in a diplomatic standoff that has resulted in both Moscow and Washington being forced to reduce embassy staff and give up diplomatic compounds.

"These are not media, but propaganda tools with 100 percent funding from the USA budget", Pushkov was quoted as saying.

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He recalled that the US Department of Justice had sent a written notification to the TV channel's top officials regarding the need to become a foreign agent by October 17.

"When it comes down to a fight with no rules, when the law is twisted and turned into an instrument for the destruction of a TV company, every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response", she said.

Russia said last month it had dropped accusations against CNN International of violating Russian media law and that the USA channel could continue broadcasting in Russia.

The broadcaster, RT, reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has demanded the registration be done by Monday.

USA intelligence agencies in January described RT America TV as "a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, (which) has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties".

RT, previously known as Russia Today, disputes that it is an agent of the Kremlin, arguing that it merely offers alternatives to mainstream news coverage.

"The Russian side has repeatedly warned that any measures limiting activity of the Russian mass media in the United States will inevitably trigger an immediate symmetrical response, as provided for in the Russian legislation", the Russian Embassy in the U.S. Memorial, one of Russia's oldest human rights groups, which has for three decades sought to expose Soviet mass killings and arrests, and the Levada Center, an independent polling agency, were registered as foreign agents by Russia's Ministry of Justice.

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