Moscow plans retaliation to "US pressure on Russian media"

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday in an interview on Russian television that Russia is working on practical steps in response to USA government pressure on Russian-government owned media operating in the U.S.

RT's chief editor, Margarita Simonyan, said the outlet would register by the deadline but planned to challenge the decision in a USA court.

"This requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts the principles of democracy and freedom of speech, it does not give us equal competition with other foreign TV channels that work in America without being registered as foreign agents", she said.

FARA requires registration "if an agent disseminates informational materials, by mail or by any means or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce, and intends the materials to be disseminated among two or more persons".

Earlier an RT statement said the US Department of Justice "has given the broadcaster until Monday to register as a foreign agent, otherwise the channel's head faces arrest and its accounts could be frozen".

This is not the first time Russian Federation has criticized the USA for taking actions against its media outlets. The restrictions were criticized by the US and the European Union.

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"When it comes down to a fight with no rules, when the law is twisted and turned into an instrument for the destruction of a TV company, every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response", she said.

RT, previously known as Russia Today, disputes that it is an agent of the Kremlin, arguing that it merely offers alternatives to mainstream news coverage.

On Thursday, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the upper house's Commission on Information Policy and Interaction with Media, held a meeting to discuss the USA move and possible retaliatory steps, a Federation Council statement said. "We consider its demand as a wish to eliminate an alternative source of information, which is an unacceptable violation of the worldwide norms of free press".

"The brutal pressure on the Russian media proves that the American side is still following the path of conscious deterioration of relations", the embassy said in a statement on Facebook.

RT has become a focus of the USA investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Groups on the list are subject to tight scrutiny by officials and must place the words "foreign agent" on all their publications, a label that recalls Soviet-era denunciations of spies and fifth-columnists.

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