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Russian Duma Considers Banning US Media Representatives


FILE - Russian lawmaker Leonid Levin (Bottom) arrives to address the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 15, 2017.

Russian lawmakers are expected to discuss a bill that could ban all journalists with U.S. media from entering the lower house of parliament in Moscow.

Olga Savastyanova, a member of the lower house, the State Duma, told Russian media Friday that the action was in retaliation for a move in Washington barring journalists from Russian state-funded television channel RT from reporting inside the U.S. Capitol building.

"It's a ban on journalists who represent American media, all American media, visiting the State Duma," the RIA news agency quoted Savastyanova as saying about the proposed ban in Moscow.

The move is the latest in a series of recent reciprocal regulations on Russian journalists in the United States and American journalists in Russia.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Radio and Television Correspondents' Galleries announced that it had stripped RT of its credentials to cover Capitol Hill.

Committee chairman Craig Caplan wrote that gallery rules "state clearly that news credentials may not be issued to any applicant employed by any foreign government or representative thereof,' " and that RT's registration as a foreign agent made the network ineligible to hold news credentials.

The logo of Russian state-owned television channel RT is seen on a window of the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 27, 2017.
The logo of Russian state-owned television channel RT is seen on a window of the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 27, 2017.

RT has responded to similar situations in the past by asserting that they are not a propaganda network.

Russian action

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that empowers the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents" and impose sanctions against them.

Russian officials called the new legislation a "symmetrical response" to what they describe as U.S. pressure on Russian media. On November 13, RT registered in the United States under a decades-old law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

FARA is aimed at promoting transparency but does not restrict the television network's operation in the United States, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said last week.

The U.S. State Department condemned Putin's legislation, saying that it obstructed press freedom.

"New Russian legislation that allows the Ministry of Justice to label media outlets as 'foreign agents' and to monitor or block certain internet activity presents yet another threat to free media in Russia," a statement released by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

"Furthermore, the Russian government's attempt to justify new, media-focused legislation as a response to the transparency requirements in the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) is disingenuous and inappropriate," the statement added, noting that FARA does not "police" content or restrict the ability of a news outlet to operate.

Nike Ching and Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

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