In January, the US Justice Department (DOJ) demanded that RIA Global LLC should register under FARA due to its alleged political activities in the country. According to the FARA register, RIA Global LLC was registered as a "foreign agent" overnight into Sunday, when Russia celebrates the last day of the week-long Maslenitsa festival when people usually burn a scarecrow of Lady Maslenitsa celebrating the end of winter.
"It is strange that Lady Maslenitsa's scarecrow has not been registered as a 'foreign agent' yet. Maybe they will do it by next season," Simonyan said.
According to the RIA Global LLC documents released by the DOJ, it is stated that no foreign government, political party or individual owns the company or controls or funds its activities. The documents also inform about the existence of state subsidies from abroad, from the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, which is a commercial company that is funded from different sources, including business revenues and state funding.
A number of Russian media outlets, including Sputnik, have faced significant pressure in the United States over the past several months, with US lawmakers and intelligence community claiming that they may have been involved in Russia’s alleged attempts to influence US 2016 presidential election. Sputnik, as well as Russian authorities, have repeatedly refuted the allegations as unsubstantiated.
A month later, the Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. (MRBI) company, broadcasting Sputnik radio programs on AM frequencies, also received a notice from the US Justice Department about the possibility of registering as a "foreign agent" and was requested to provide additional information for taking a decision.
Following DOJ's ruling, Simonyan said that the demand to register was discriminatory, contradicted principles of democracy and freedom of speech, barred from equal competition with foreign broadcasters working in the United States and not registered as "foreign agents."