Threat to Media Originates in US
The attack by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Russia's State Duma demonstrates double standards, the Russian Embassy said.
"The most recent example is an attack by the CPJ on the Russian Duma, which fairly and adequately reacts to provocative actions of the US authorities towards the Russian media in the United States," the embassy said. "Such a behavior cannot be called anything but a demonstration of double standards. This is disappointing."
The State Duma adopted in the first reading on Friday a bill that envisions regulation of "foreign agent" media activities in Russia. In particular, it stipulates that media recognized as "foreign agents" in Russia should establish a Russian legal entity to distribute their products. On Tuesday, the CPJ urged the Russian authorities to drop the proposed foreign agent law.
The embassy noted that the CPJ did not oppose the most recent demand by the US authorities to Russian media partners to register as a foreign agent, demonstrating bias and inability to ensure equal approaches in upholding uniform standards.
The Russian diplomatic mission went on to say that the CPJ’s "hypocrisy became even more obvious" when the committee failed to react to the movement of Ukraine’s Mirotvorets website to the US servers.
The embassy reminded that Mirotvirets website moved to American servers more than three months ago.
"In 2016, the CPJ urged the Ukrainian authorities to condemn the threats to journalists coming from this website. In 2017-2019 the CPJ is silent as well as the US authorities," the embassy added. "Instead of decisive action to suppress activities of the Mirotvorets website, we see their desire to use any cause for attacks on Russia.
Threat to journalists originates on the territory of the United States following the move of Ukraine’s website "Mirotvorets" to American servers, the embassy said.
"Threat to the media representatives comes from the territory of the United States itself, where, apparently, the favorable conditions are created for such resources," the press release reads.
The Ukrainian website Mirotvorets is known for revealing personal information of people who are considered to be "enemies of Ukraine,” including Ukrainian and foreign journalists who covered the military conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow Vows to Respond
The embassy also noted that Moscow is prepared to respond if Washington continues to use restrictive measures to the Russian media working on its territory.
"If the restrictive measures toward our press continue to take place, we will provide a mirror response," the release said. "That will always be the case regardless of any sanctions we may be threatened with."
According to the Russian embassy, the US Department of Justice decision to demand another Russian media outlet register as a foreign agent in the United States shows the unwillingness of the West to allow free competition in the media domain.
In November, the US branch of the Russian RT broadcaster registered as a "foreign agent" in the United States under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) upon the request of the Department of Justice. Other foreign state media outlets in the United States, such as the United Kingdom’s BBC, China’s CCTV, Germany’s Deutsche Welle and others, have not been requested to register under FARA. RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said the broadcaster had been choosing between registering or being charged in a criminal case by the US government.
The request to register as a "foreign agent" in the United States followed months of claims about the alleged interference of Russian media, particularly RT and Sputnik, in the 2016 US presidential election. The media outlets, as well as the Russian authorities, have repeatedly denied the allegations of meddling.
In late November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law allowing the Russian Justice Ministry to designate foreign media outlets funded from abroad as "foreign agents." A number of foreign media, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, have already been designated by the Russian ministry.