Russia is labeling nine U.S. government-backed news outlets — including Voice of America — as foreign agents.
It’s the latest move in an escalating dispute between Moscow and Washington over media organizations operating in the two countries.
Russia’s Justice Ministry designated the nine outlets, which also include Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as foreign agents, the country’s state-run news agency Tass reported Tuesday.
The announcement comes less than a month after the production company behind the American version of the Russian state-funded network RT was forced to register as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Russia had threatened to take action against U.S. media outlets operating in the country in retaliation.
The other seven entities designated by Moscow are all Russian-language outlets linked to Voice of America or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They are Current Time TV, Azatliq Radiosi, Sibir Realii, Idel Realii, Factograf, Kavkaz Realii and Krym Realii.
The news organizations are funded by the U.S. government. At least some of them received letters in October warning them of unspecified restrictions.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. agency that oversees the news organizations, issued a statement in October in response to the Russian threat.
“The networks of the BBG, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, are free and independent of the United States government and deploy honest and independent journalism on behalf of our audiences around the world,” BBG CEO John Lansing said in the statement.
“Any attempt to stifle them by authoritarian regimes is a direct assault on the rights of all people around the globe to have access to the free flow of truthful information.”
Radio Free Europe already faces severe restrictions in distributing its content within Russia. It has a bureau in Moscow that employs more than 50 people, including Russian nationals.
— Clare Sebastian contributed to this report.