Vague and ambiguous interpretation of the foreign agent status in various countries
We believed that when in 2017 the United States of America and their law enforcement system first announced their intent to label Russian media as foreign agents, it was a coincidence. We believed that it was some kind of political pressure or bullying. Honestly, we never thought they would proceed, but they did — Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
We have a popular meme and hashtag – ‘this is different’. When the President of Ukraine orders to shut down three major TV channels, this is different, because it is a fight against Russian disinformation. When Baltic states pressure and suppress Sputnik, file criminal cases and basically destroy a media agency, they are protecting their information sovereignty – this is different. When Russia tries to set the limits for certain propaganda media operating here, naturally it is an attempt to rip up the so-called freedom of speech — Alexander Malkevich, General Director, Saint Petersburg TV Channel, President, Foundation for National Values Protection; Chairman, Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Development of the Information Community, Mass Media and Mass Communications.
The foreign media law was first and foremost a response to the US law and the way it was applied to Russian media in 2017. Naturally, RT was the first media outlet it was applied to. I would like to quote The Pokrovsky Gate, a famous Russian movie: “Please note it wasn’t my suggestion”. We were doing our job. RT was launched in 2005 and had some coverage in the USA. Then in 2010, we launched a cutting-edge TV channel – RT America. <…> Then after 12 years of our operation there and 7 years of being a separate US TV channel, they got to us and forced us to register as a foreign agent. Of course, all this time they have been assuring us – Department of State has been assuring us – that it will have no impact on our performance — Anna Belkina, Deputy Editor-in-Chief; Director of Marketing & Strategic Development, RT.