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G-Men on the Trail of Russian Media

Russian media could find themselves subject to Washington’s version of the notorious Russian ‘foreign agent law,’ reports suggest.

13 September 2017

The company that supplies services to RT America, the U.S. operation of the giant state-funded broadcaster RT, has been told to register as a foreign agent with the U.S. Justice Department, RT reported Monday.


RT’s report did not name the company, while it quoted RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan as saying the registration demand was part of “the war the U.S. establishment wages with our journalists.”


The other large Kremlin-controlled international news organization, Sputnik, is also reportedly under scrutiny by U.S. law enforcement.


An FBI agent and a prosecutor recently questioned the news agency’s former White House correspondent, Andrew Feinberg, as part of a probe into whether Sputnik, too, violated the World War II-era Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, Yahoo News reports.


“They wanted to know where did my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow,” Feinberg said. “They were interested in examples of how I was steered towards covering certain issues.”


Feinberg said he turned over a flash drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents.


FARA is most often applied to political consultants and lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments (in relation, for example, to the controversy around President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his work in Ukraine). Media organizations have so far been exempted from the law, the political news site The Hill says.


Registration as a foreign agent would require RT America to submit regular reports on its sources of foreign government-tied revenue and list its contacts in the United States. It would also be required to label its reports as being influenced or financed by the Russian government, according to The Hill.


RT America was singled out as a chief mouthpiece for Kremlin-inspired disinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in an incendiary U.S. intelligence report in January. Some analysts criticized the report as vague and thinly sourced.




  • Feinberg was fired in mid-2016 after five months in a very uncomfortable role covering the White House for Sputnik, he recently told Politico.


  • He claimed to have pressed back at his bosses’ demands to influence the questions he asked and the content of his stories. His supervisors denied the claims and said he was let go for performance-related reasons.


  • It is not clear whether Feinberg’s questioning was part of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Russia tried to influence the presidential election, Yahoo News says.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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