The Russian Justice Ministry has declared Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Voice of America (VOA), and several affiliated news services “foreign agents ” under new legislation.
A statement on the Justice Ministry website said that in accordance with a new Russian law on mass media, it has decided to list RFE/RL, VOA, Current Time TV, and RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, Siberia.Reality, Idel.Reality, Factograph, Kavkaz Realii, and Crimea.Reality as “foreign mass media performing the functions of a foreign agent.”
The one-sentence Justice Ministry statement did not specify what potential restrictions the media outlets could face, but lawmakers have said designated media could be subjected to detailed financial-reporting requirements and required to label published material as coming from a foreign agent.
Russian officials have said the law is a “symmetrical response” after state-funded channel RT — which U.S. authorities accuse of spreading propaganda — was required to register its U.S. operating unit under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
U.S. officials say the action is not symmetrical, arguing that the U.S. and Russian laws are different and that Russia uses its “foreign-agent” legislation to silence dissent and discourage a free exchange of ideas.