The Russian government has begun the process of reprisals against the US following the decision to force Kremlin-backed RT to register as a ‘foreign agent’ under threat of having its bank accounts frozen.
Naturally this hasn’t gone down well in Moscow where moves are afoot in the Russian parliament to place similar restrictions on CNN, the Voice of America and Radio Liberty, considered to be a ‘biased’ media outlets which ‘oppose’ Russia’s own political system, The Guardian reports.
The US clampdown comes amidst suspicions from its intelligence services that RT played a role in seeking to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election, allegations which it denies.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker in the Russian parliament, said: “What the US authorities are doing today is an infringement of fundamental civil rights, of freedom of speech.”
Fraying relations between Washington and Moscow mean that a further escalation could follow with the Russian foreign ministry refusing to rule out the expulsion of Moscow-based foreign correspondents from publishers such as The Washington Post and New York Times.
Roskomnadzor, the Russian telecoms watchdog, has also requested that it be given exceptional powers to block the websites of foreign media outlets and those of non-governmental organisations without first having to seek a court order.
RT complained that it acquiesced to US demands to register as a ‘foreign agent’ only under duress, fearful that its director of channel operations in the US could be arrested if it failed to comply.
Last month Twitter banned advertising by RT and Sputnik over allegations of US election meddling.