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Russian parliament orders probe of US media in Moscow

Washington: Russia's parliament has called for an investigation into American media operating in its country in response to what it says are attacks on Russian media in the US, particularly state-funded broadcaster RT News.

The state Duma, or lower house of parliament, called on its committee on information policy, information technology and communications to conduct an "audit" of Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, CNN and other US media "for compliance of their activities with Russian legislation," according to the legislative body's website.

VOA is a federal entity, while Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, non-profit organisation funded by a grant from the US Congress.

Konstantin Zatulin, a member of parliament from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, requested the probe on Friday to combat what he called a "repressive" move by the US against RT.

RT News runs numerous media operations worldwide, including RT America, a slick, English-language network.

Zatulin said he was responding to US politicians who have moved "from words to deeds" after long complaining the Russian media interfered in the internal affairs of the US and particularly its presidential election.

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He specifically singled out Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who introduced a bill in Congress to give the Justice Department new authority to investigate RT America's potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The senator, in introducing her bill, noted a recent report by the US Director of National Intelligence concluded RT News officials structured their affiliate organisations to deliberately circumvent US reporting and disclosure requirements under the FARA.

"We have good reason to believe that RT News is coordinating with the Russian government to spread misinformation and undermine our democratic process," Shaheen said. "The American public has a right to know if this is the case. RT News has made public statements boasting that it can dodge our laws with shell corporations, and it's time for the Department of Justice to investigate."

Shaheen told RFE/RL that it appears her legislation struck a nerve with the Kremlin and some Duma members.

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the the Russian Foreign Ministry, criticised Shaheen's legislative move this week, quipping the New Hampshire senator should have also drawn up a list of books for burning, Reuters reported.

Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, told the Russian newspaper Izvestia that such moves were reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign in the 1950s. 

USA Today

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