U.S. ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Russia’s Targeting Of ‘Foreign Agent’ Media

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(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 10, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/us-deeply-concerned-by-russia-s-targeting-of-foreign-agent-media/30776527.html)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington is “deeply concerned” by fresh efforts by Russia to target foreign media operating there.

In a statement issued on August 10, Pompeo said a a recent draft order published by Russia’s state media regulator would “impose new burdensome requirements” on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, which he said already faced “signficant and undue restrictions.”

“We remain troubled by the ongoing crackdown on independent press in Russia and call on Russia to uphold its obligations and OSCE commitments to freedom of expression,” Pompei said, referring to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Russia’s federal media regulator, Rozkomnadzor, in July issued a draft order that would require all media outlets registered as “foreign agents” to identify that fact in published or broadcast materials.

The new order would supplement a 2017 law on designating foreign-funded media as “foreign agents.” After that law was adopted, the Justice Ministry listed VOA, several services of RFE/RL, and Current Time as “foreign agents.” Current Time is the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

Failure to abide by the new requirements could result in fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,400) or 15 days in custody for individuals. Organizations could be fined up to 5 million rubles ($70,000).

Acting RFE/RL President Daisy Sindelar said on July 23 that the proposed order was intended to further restrict the media in Russia and to instill fear in their audiences.

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