Russia blacklists VOA, Radio Liberty as “foreign agents”

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The Russian Justice Ministry on Tuesday blacklisted U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as “foreign agents” in retaliation for a similar move against Russia’s state-owned RT news network.

VOA, RFE/RL and seven media outlets under them will possibly face a series of restrictions, including an entry ban to the Russian parliament.

The State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, plans to adopt on Wednesday a bill banning the entry for about nine media outlets.

A similar move is expected from the Federation Council, or the upper house.

The access to materials distributed by “foreign agent” media outlets may be restricted at the request of the Russian Prosecutor General’s office, said Andrei Klishas, chairman of the Federation Council’s Constitutional Legislation Committee.

Klishas also said he has submitted to the State Duma a bill imposing fines for the dissemination of materials without informing clients that they are created by a “foreign agent.”

The Russian Justice Ministry is unlikely to expand its “foreign agent” list in the near future, said Andrei Klimov, head of the Federation Council’s Commission on State Sovereignty Protection.

The Russian blacklist was introduced in accordance with recently adopted law amendments on media after the U.S. Department of Justice forced RT America to register as a “foreign agent” on suspicion of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news.

On Thursday, RT America was stripped of its press credentials for working in the Capitol Hill due to its “foreign agent” status.

“Our countermeasures should be mirror-like and precisely targeted. They should not spread on all media,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Monday, adding that Moscow will not deprive U.S. media of general accreditation for journalistic activities in Russia.

She said Moscow will lift restrictions on U.S. media if Washington stops pressuring Russian media.(Xinhua/NAN)