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RT Chief Jokes About US State Dept Reporters Watching Network 'On the Sly'

RT - Sputnik International
RT and Sputnik news agency editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan has poked some light fun at AFP journalist David Clark over his comments that US State Department journalists were forced to tune in to RT if they wanted to watch the draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Washington-based journalist tweeted the comment, along with a pic, presumably from an office in the State Department, on Friday, quipping that there was "some kind of soft power metaphor there."

In response to the revelation, Simonyan took to Twitter herself, joking that "while no one is watching, journalists in the State Department are watching our broadcast," adding the Russian hashtag #softpower.

In recent months, the Russian television network and Sputnik have faced growing pressure from US authorities. Last month, the US Justice Department forced RT America to register as a so-called 'foreign agent' under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. Last week, the US Congressional Press Galleries took away RT's press accreditation, effective immediately.

A sign on the headquarters of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty international broadcasting organization in Prague - Sputnik International
Russian Ministry of Justice Declares 9 Media Outlets 'Foreign Agents'
In response to the US actions, Russian lawmakers introduced legislation allowing foreign media to be recognized as foreign agents inside Russia. On Tuesday, Russian officials announced that nine foreign news services, including Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, agencies funded by the US government, had been declared foreign agents. The ban includes barring reporters from the agencies from entering the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council. The Russian Foreign Ministry has emphasized that Moscow may lift the restrictions in a tit for tat manner if Washington does the same.

The draw for the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place on Friday at the State Kremlin Palace. A dozen Russian cities will host the global sporting event June 14 to July 15.

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