MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Moscow may retaliate if Washington continues to put pressure on the Russian media working in the United States, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Sunday, commenting on the situation around the RT broadcaster.
Earlier in the day, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said that in the worst case scenario the RT broadcaster may cease its activities in the United States due to increasing pressure from the country's authorities.
"People should understand that if they create conditions under which journalists face a physical threat, if they experience physical threats due to their activities, the retaliatory measures would follow. It is not our choice," Zakharova told Rossiya-1 broadcaster.
She stressed that the Russian side had never expelled foreign journalists from the country over their vision of Russia.
"Have we ever stripped these journalists of the Foreign Ministry's accreditation, which gives them the right to work on the whole territory of our country? Have we ever denied issuing visas?" the spokeswoman said.
Zakharova noted that if the US authorities continued to put pressure on the RT broadcaster, then the broadcaster "would have to submit all the personal data of its employees, all the information regarding its contacts, transcripts of their broadcasts on almost everyday basis." She stressed that in this scenario the broadcaster would have to focus not on informing people, but fulfilling demands of the US intelligence services.
In September, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a contractor of the RT in the United States to register under Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), while in June, US congressmen introduced a Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act bill. The latter would provide the Justice Department with increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that allegedly seek to unlawfully influence the US political process.
On September 30, Simonyan called the US authorities' demand to register the contractor of the RT in the United States as a foreign agent illegitimate.
Russia has faced multiple accusations on part of US officials and media of alleged interference in the US presidential election, although the claims have not been substantiated. Top Russian officials have repeatedly denied these allegations and stressed that Russia avoids interfering in other states’ domestic affairs.
RT and Sputnik news agency have come under intense scrutiny in the United States, with US lawmakers questioning whether RT should have been registered under FARA and, most recently, asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to look into Sputnik Radio.