Russian President Vladimir Putin signs bill targeting global media outlets

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signs bill targeting global media outlets

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill vesting the government with the power to label foreign-funded media outlets in Russia as "foreign agents", said a presidential decree published Saturday.

The move is a retaliatory response for a similar measure taken by the U.S. Department of Justice against the state-funded RT television.

US authorities accused Russian media outlets of influencing public opinion during the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news. Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become "the only Russian media company" to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to "new leaks of secret information". But Moscow saw the forced registration as an obstacle to Russian media activities in the United States and a step violating the freedom of speech.

In September, Maria Zakharova, director of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the USA should anticipate pushback for its actions against state-funded Russian media.

A media outlet will be deemed a foreign agent if it gets money from other countries. RT complied, according RU Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan's November 13 statement.

The law has been rushed through both Russian parliaments in the past two weeks in response to what the Kremlin describes as unacceptable pressure on Russian media outlets in the United States.

Sputnik News, the government-controlled news agency formerly known as RIA Novosti, reported Saturday that the Kremlin may also use its new media law to respond to reports that the European Parliament has allocated $1.3 million for a European Union anti-propaganda unit targeting alleged "Russian fake news".

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