Russian-Backed TV Network's Production Company Registers as Foreign Agent

Margarita Simonyan

Margarita Simonyan

The Russian state-controlled television channel RT bowed to U.S. pressure Monday and registered as a foreign agent in the United States, as Moscow moved to impose reciprocal measures on USA media.

RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said on Thursday that the timeframe provided for the company by the DoJ is a "cannibalistic deadline".

Chief editor Margarita Simonyan said the media outlet has chosen to register as a foreign agent rather than face a potential criminal proceeding in the U.S. She added sarcastically, "we congratulate the American freedom of speech and those who still believe in that".

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".

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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.

T&R Productions LLC, a corporation based in Washington, registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an agent for ANO TV-Novosti, which controls the RT network's worldwide broadcasts.

The Department of Justice confirmed that it received a registration from T&R Productions LLC, which has operated studios for RT, hired and paid USA -based employees and produced English-language programming.

Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin said they'd take a "tit for tat" measure against American outlets in Russia in retaliation for the pressure on RT.

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In October, Twitter announced it would no longer allow advertisements from RT and another Kremlin-backed news organization, citing intelligence that the television station participated in efforts to influence the election. FARA was first passed in 1938 in the lead up to World War Two in an effort to combat German propaganda efforts. Several foreign broadcasters are now registered under FARA, including Canada's CBC, Japan's NHK and China Daily.

Moscow said measures requiring media outlets such as U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to register as foreign agents could be passed by the Russian parliament as early as Wednesday.

While RT America will comply with the DOJ's demand and register as a "foreign agent", the company will challenge the decision in court, Simonyan said.

The United States and Russian Federation are engaged in a back-and-forth over "foreign agent" registration.

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

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