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Kremlin channel RT registers as foreign agent in US

14 November 2017

The chief editor of the Russian state-funded TV channel RT says the company has met the US demand to register as a foreign agent.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian broadcaster RT, meets with journalists, with the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour seen in the background, in Moscow, Russia, October 17, 2016. "And congratulations to American freedom of speech and anyone who still believes in it", Simonyan tweeted in Russian.

The Department of Justice sent a letter to RT America back in September ordering that it register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) because of their work for their Russian parent company, Simonyan said Thursday.

FARA requires foreign governments, political parties and the lobbyists and public relations firms they hire in the United States to register with the Department of Justice.

Numerous lawmakers have called upon RT to register as a foreign agent since the election.

After filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the network must disclose relationships and activities, presumably on behalf of Russian Federation, to the Justice Department.

The DOJ's registration request has prompted Russian officials to retaliate by threatening to enforce harsher restrictions against American news organizations operating in Russia, especially government-funded outlets such as Radio Free Europe and its television sister network Current Time.

On November 10, Russia's State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin gave instructions to appropriate committees of the State Duma lower house of parliament to draft a symmetric legislative response to the actions of the U.S. Department of Justice.

A January assessment by USA intelligence agencies 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". US intelligence agencies also concluded that Russian Federation sought to interfere with the USA election to help Donald Trump get elected.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations of election meddling and said it views the actions against RT as an unfriendly act.

But RT's editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan, said on Monday that it would comply with the demand in order to avoid further legal action by the US government. "Programs produced cover a broad range of news and talk show topics, reflect balance regarding commentary, and are not aimed to primarily benefit any foreign government or political party".

The act was originally passed by Congress in 1938 due to concerns about German propaganda agents in the United States before World War II.

Kremlin channel RT registers as foreign agent in US