Friday, June 9, 2017

US Restrictive Bill Targeting Media Aims to Boost Pressure on Russia – Lawmaker
Sutormina image from

The US draft legislation changing the requirements for registration of foreign agents, which aims to restrict the activity of RT broadcaster, may be used for "biased" goals and to increasing pressure on Russia, Elena Sutormina, the head of the Russian Civic Chamber's Committee on Public Diplomacy and Support for Compatriots Abroad told Sputnik.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, US Congressmen David Cicilline and Matthew Gaetz introduced legislation, called The Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act (FARA), which would provide the US Department of Justice with "the increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that seek to unlawfully influence the political process." The legislation is specifically targeting such media outlets, as RT broadcaster, obliging them to register as foreign agents and report their activity to the Department of Justice. Cecilline called the RT broadcaster the Kremlin's "propaganda" arm "dressed up as a legitimate news outlet," and said that the new bill will help to prevent "spread of fake news" among the US nationals.

"It is more pressure, a further step from the existing positions, as nowadays centers for tackling Russian propaganda are being created. And the problem is that this law could be used for biased purpose," Sutormina said.

According to the current US legislation, all organizations that are representatives of foreign states or are financed from abroad are registered as foreign agents and have to explain their financial activities and events plan to US authorities, Sutormina explained, adding that the draft bill would put "added pressure" upon such organizations.

"At the same time they [the United States] are blatantly meddling with domestic affairs of other countries, as the number of US-financed non-governmental organizations in Russia has literally multiplied. There are over 4,000 organizations now," Sutormina stated, adding that those NGOs are looking "for ways to evade our [Russia’s] laws."

Member of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights Andrei Yurov, however, stated that it is too early to make conclusions regarding the new bill as the FARA law itself only affects the organizations that have connection to elections and lobbying, and stressed that it is important to look into "whether it would really affect the rights of the people, including those working with foreign organizations."

The draft bill gives the US Justice Department powers to compel the production of documents from any person or entity while investigating any case, which is within the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) compliance. As of now, the authority to compel the production of such documents appears only after initiation of civil or criminal proceeding.

Russian media outlets broadcasting in Europe and the United States have been facing a barrage of accusations by Western officials about allegedly spreading fake news and attempting to influence public life. In the United States, intelligence community has claimed Russia used its media outlets to swing the outcome of US November presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, but have not provided any evidence to back their claims.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials have repeatedly stated that Moscow refrains from meddling in internal affairs of foreign countries.

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