Russia's lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill vesting the government with the power to label foreign-funded media outlets as "foreign agents", after Washington did the same to Russian state-funded RT television channel.
"The bill is an exceptional measure, which mirrors the US legislation on foreign agents," said Leonid Levin, head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Technologies and Communication.
"Any encroachment on the freedom of Russian media abroad is not and won't be left without a strong condemnation and a tit-for-tat response of Moscow," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency, adding that the law will enable Russia to give a timely response.
On Monday, RT America registered as a foreign agent in the US at the demand of the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) enacted in 1938.
US authorities accused Russian media outlets of influencing public opinion during the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news. But Moscow said that RT, along with other Russian media outlets, is being oppressed by the US government.
The bill will be sent to the Federation Council, the upper house, for endorsement later in the day, before it is signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin into law.
US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and its Current Time TV channel, Voice of America and CNN could be affected by the retaliatory measures, said Alexei Pushkov, head of the Federation Council Committee on Information Policy.
FARA requires "persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities".
According to Levin, the US used its legislation against Russian journalists to "complicate as much as possible the conditions for their efficient work in the United States with the aim to restrict free competition on the media market".
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