RT Network Now Official Russian ‘Agent’ in the US
The RT television channel has formally declared itself as a Russian government agent in the United States. It follows an American request for the Kremlin-financed network to register itself as a “foreign agent” under a law aimed at combatting propaganda from abroad.
President Vladimir Putin has vowed to retaliate with “tit for tat” restrictions on American media outlets operating in Russia, which could include CNN and the Voice of America.
“Americans have a right to know who is acting in the United States to influence the U.S. government or public on behalf of foreign principals,” said the U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Dana J. Boente, in a statement announcing RT’s registration.
The filing was actually carried out in the name of an obscure production company owned by a Russian-American, according to the U.S. Justice Department. T&R Productions LLC says it produces shows for ANO TV-Novosti, a “Russian government entity” responsible for RT’s global broadcasts. Mikhail Solodnikov is listed as the sole owner and member of the production company, and declared an annual salary of $670,000.
The U.S. demand for RT to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) came after American intelligence agencies singled out the network in their report into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
But Russia’s minister of communications, Nikola Nikoforov, blamed the FARA designation on “anti-Russian hysteria” in the United States.
RT said it had complied with the order due to fears that the company’s assets could be seized and employees prosecuted, steps that most experts say are rarely taken under FARA.
The network was also recently banned from advertising on Twitter.