Russia Designates 9 US Media Outlets as Foreign Agents
Russia's justice ministry on Tuesday designated nine U.S. media outlets, including the Voice of America, as "foreign agents."
The ministry further listed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and several of its affiliates, after warning last month they could be affected.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in November empowering the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents" and impose sanctions against them.
Russian officials have called the new legislation a "symmetrical response" to what they describe as U.S. pressure on Russian media. On November 13, Russian state-funded television channel RT registered in the United States under a decades-old law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said FARA is aimed at promoting transparency but does not restrict the television network's operation in the United States.
The U.S. State Department has condemned Russia's law, saying it obstructs 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," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement last month.
Tillerson To Affirm 'Ironclad" US Commitment to NATO During Trip to Europe
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he plans to affirm an "ironclad" U.S. commitment to NATO during a visit to Belgium, Austria and France this week.
Dogged by reports by several media outlets that the White House is considering replacing him with CIA Chief Mike Pompeo, Tillerson called those reports “laughable”. President Donald Trump also tweeted that Tillerson is not leaving any time soon.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed Tillerson’s job insecurity speculation Monday as a distraction, saying the trans-Atlantic alliance “and NATO ministers are able to focus on the core tasks of the job we have to do despite any speculation and rumors.” Stoltenberg also praised Tillerson’s strong personal commitment to the trans-Atlantic bond and to NATO. Tillerson is set to meet with Stoltenberg to discuss a range of global security issues.
The U.S. envoy to NATO, former Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, said that there has been no change to plans for two days of talks starting Tuesday in Brussels between Tillerson and his NATO foreign minister counterparts.