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New Sputnik Brought Down To Earth by Old US Law

News Brief

The American arm of the Russian government-backed media outlet that produces content for Sputnik has been ordered to register as a foreign agent in the United States, amid continuing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and concerns about its propaganda operations.

RIA Global, which is based and registered in the U.S, is the fourth Russian news agency linked to the Kremlin that has been added to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) since November.

All four Russian agencies on list are either content producers or distributors of RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and Sputnik, the two Russian state-media outlets which publish internationally. They featured prominently in the CIA’s intelligence report on Russian election interference. Other Russian media outlets reporting primarily for a Russian-language audience continue to operate in the U.S. without being required to register.

FARA was first introduced in the 1930s to combat Nazi propaganda, but this obscure law has taken on new importance in recent months amid probes by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the U.S. Congress into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

RIA Global said that despite its new status as a foreign agent it will maintain “independent editorial control,” however the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. complained this weekend that working conditions for Russian journalists are worsening in the States.

“They work in a country where slogans differ from deeds,” wrote RIA Novosti citing an embassy representative about the registration. “Human rights organizations, which should have defended them, failed to do so.”

The Russian embassy said that the registration was “an act directed against the freedom of the press,” according to the Moscow Times. President Vladimir Putin responded to the recent registrations which began this fall by signing a law designating international media outlets as “foreign agents.”