December 04, 2017

Freedom of the Press Caucus Condemns Russia’s Designation of Foreign Media as “Foreign Agents”

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Co-Chairs of the Freedom of the Press Caucus, released the following statement:

"President Putin has signed legislation that would empower the government to designate foreign media organizations as ‘foreign agents’ and place even more restrictions on them. This law further threatens what little remains of free and independent journalism in Russia. Having systematically suppressed the independent press through attacks and imprisonment, while building a state-sponsored propaganda network to take its place, Putin has taken yet another step to further choke off discussion and investigation into corruption and other issues the Kremlin would prefer to conceal.

"Russian officials have stated this legislation is a 'reciprocal response' to the U.S. Justice Department decision requiring the Russian state-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik to register in the United States under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).  This is just a pretext to further limit opposition voices.  The Justice Department required RT and Sputnik to register as a result of the U.S. intelligence community's finding that they spread disinformation as part of a Kremlin effort to undermine Western democracies. FARA promotes transparency, which is far different from designating independent media as a foreign agent and subjecting them to interference by state authorities.

"A free and independent press is a crucial ingredient in any democracy to hold those in power accountable. It's abundantly clear that this action has nothing to do with reciprocity, and everything to do with the Kremlin's efforts to crack down on all dissent and free exchange of information in Russia."