In retaliation to the recent forced registration of RT to the U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act, the Russian ministry has identified 9 international news outlets as foreign agents. This raises further questions over the media war between the U.S. and Russia and overall press freedom within Russia. These news outlets include government funded international news services such as Voices of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and many of it's services including the Tatar-Bashkir Service.
On November 25, Putin signed a Russian foreign agent law into action that was quickly passed through parliament. Putin’s law defines an organization as a foreign agent “if it receives funds and/or any other assets from foreign states, foreign governmental organizations, international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens, persons without citizenship." This law was signed into action following the registration of RT but prior to the discrediting of RT. Pictured to the right is an image from a Moscow Times article regarding the recent foreign agent laws.
Radio Free Europe has not received any further information on why the news organization was found to be a foreign agent. President of RFE has stated, "We will study all communications from the ministry and other Russian official organizations carefully. At the same time, we remain committed to continuing our journalistic work in the interests of providing accurate and objective news to our Russian-speaking audiences." It is not yet known of the next steps these news organizations will be taking in registering with the new Russian foreign agents law.
The Russian ministry posted 1 sentence on their official website announcing that these news outlets would be required to register with the most recent Russian foreign agent law. It has not been decided over what this registration would require, but many are speculating that news outlets registered with this law would have to submit financial reports and label their content as being published by foreign agents.
Many global news outlets have reacted negatively to Russia’s foreign agent law such as the Asia Times calling this a Russian media war. In an article titled, "This is a media war that Russia can only lose" M.K. Bhadrakumar states, "isn’t it sad that things have come to such a sorry pass – a country that boasts the Statue of Liberty being in reality so intolerant?" Many free media advocates disapprove of both Russia and the U.S.'s foreign agent laws. The U.S. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also called for Russia's Justice Ministry to immediately reverse this anti-press action.
The Moscow Times reports that the Russian media will be adding more news organizations to their list of foreign agents in this upcoming week. Russian Parliament will also be meeting this week to discuss measures that would further discredit U.S. reporters working in Russia, similar to how the U.S. discredited RT. The State Duma has since placed a ban on certain reporters from reporting on the state duma, which is essentially the same as U.S. Congress' discrediting of RT.