Russia Poised To Overcome US In Information War
On Friday, President Putin held a meeting of the Security Council, focused, among other things, on increasing pressure on Russian media abroad. It is clear what it is about. America cannot tolerate the freedom of speech. America declared an information war on Russia, but it already feels that it is losing.
It has taken America by complete surprise, so much so that the authorities are fighting dirty in their boxing match with the Russian media, suddenly demanding strict legal restrictions on the work of our journalists in the US.
The Russian television channel, RT, and the Russian news agency, Sputnik, which operate on the Internet as well as via radio, are now experiencing nothing short of repression in the United States. There's just no other word for it.
Journalists who work for these media agencies now fall under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act—FARA. The US Department of Justice sent a letter to RT and Sputnik, requiring their unconditional registration as foreign agents before October 17th. In this case, no legal protection is provided.
This means that fellow journalists working in the United States, in fact, lose their status as journalists, becoming “agents who are illegally influencing the US political landscape”. It comes amidst the rampant Russophobia in America and has far-reaching consequences for journalists: mandatory disclosure of all electronic correspondence, a complete invasion of privacy, which would even extend to financial dealings, mandatory disclosure of private information about family members, connections, and other contacts. Those who don't respect the law will be arrested.
Altogether, this represents a major hindrance to actual editorial work. Journalists, who have chosen an honorable profession that is focused on fundamental human rights and the freedom of speech, certainly didn't expect to be labeled foreign agents. That's an entirely different line of work altogether, and not entirely suitable for some people.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT and the Sputnik news agency, claims to be nostalgic about the America of old, where freedom of speech was still respected. Today's America is different.
Margarita Simonyan: «First, they tried to undermine our positions in absolutely all mass media, publishing articles labeling us as scoundrels and scumbags, using the same language. Federal agents would visit us and then make up all kinds of stories. It's as if we drink the blood of Christian babies, then give some to President Putin, or whatever. Now they're easing us out of the country by legal means. What can I say? The truth is that I'm shocked by it. Because a year ago, before this political insanity started in the US, State Department officials told me: “Guys, it's hard to deal with you, but we live in a free country, we have the first amendment, you see, we leave you alone. You're being oppressed in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, but we leave you alone. Now they're right there in our face, fighting us. It's pretty pathetic».
Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, describes the situation in the USA as “a witch hunt,” adding:Maria Zakharova: «All the demands placed on RT and Sputnik contradict the principles of freedom of speech, which are promoted by the US. When it comes to such dirty, unscrupulous actions, where the law is distorted and used as a tool for ruining a television company, every step against Russian media companies will have a proportionate response».
It's easy to imagine Russia's response. Here, for example, there are such US state-backed media agencies as Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the TV channel, Current Time. Perhaps, Russia should move to reciprocity in dealing with them, too. Moreover, many minor internet resources, financed by American funds, are operating throughout Russia. Each of them is small, per Se, but in sum their audience is considerable. We'll have to deal with them, too.
For these ends, we need to pass new laws that require media agencies to disclose their sources of funding and answer to our Foreign Agents Act.
Of course, the Federation Council Commission for the Prevention of Foreign Influence has to intensify its work, as there's much to do. They should even hold public hearings on the issue. As a result, appropriate legislation will be developed. That's just the way it is.