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CPJ Decries Designation of VOA, RFE/RL as Foreign Agents

The Committee to Protect Journalists called it "reprehensible" that Russia has declared Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty networks as foreign agents.

The move was in retaliation for the Trump Administration making RT, formerly Russian Television, register as a foreign agent. That designation meant RT had to be conspicuously labeled as being disseminated by agents of a foreign government. It also meant RT has to provide information on income and expenditures, supplemented every six months.

The Russian designation does much the same thing. CPJ cites reports that it means the U.S. nets "could be required to disclose to Russian authorities details of their funding, editorial policy, financial activities, and management."

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VOA and RFE/RL are funded by the U.S. government.

"It is reprehensible that Russia, which restricts its own independent, critical media, is now taking action to obstruct the work of international outlets that provide a vital alternative news source to Russian citizens," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova, in a statement. "We call on the Justice Ministry to immediately reverse its anti-press action and to allow a free flow of news in the country."

"The decision by Russian authorities to designate RFE/RL and VOA news services as 'foreign agents' has not affected our current program delivery," Nasserie Carew, spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA/RFE/RL, told B&C. "While the Russian government has indicated that the new designation will come with additional limitations on our work in Russia, the nature of these limitations is unknown at this time. We will therefore continue our work of providing accurate and objective news to our Russian speaking audiences. BBG remains committed to continuing our journalistic work, and our mission of informing, engaging, and connecting people around the world in support of freedom and democracy."