The headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) seen with the United States, RFE/RL and the Czech Republic flags in the foreground, in Prague Friday, Jan. 15, 2010. (AP /CTK, Michal Kamaryt)
In a move designed to retaliate against efforts in Congress to start an investigation into Russian media outlet RT, the Russian State Duma has called for the information and telecommunication committee to launch its own investigation into US media outlets to see if they are violating Russian law in any way.
The order singled out three outlets, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, both run by the federal government, and CNN, which is owned by major US media outlet Time Warner. The order came at the behest of Konstantin Zatulin, from the ruling United Russia party, and he was quite clear this was a response to the moves against RT.
While CNN is sort of a wild card in all of this, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe are roughly the American equivalent of RT, and were launched by the US government back during the Cold War specifically with an eye toward shifting international public opinion in a way favorable to the US, and unfavorable to the Soviet Union.
Much like the US outlets, which operate nominally independently, but under the federally-run Broadcast Board of Governors, RT is organized as a non-profit, but owned by RIA Novosti, the Russian state media outlet. Some in the US are arguing that this should oblige RT employees to register as agents of a foreign government, though this is not historically the way the US has handled state-owned media outlets from abroad.
It’s unclear whether the Russian inquiry will go anywhere, though since it is overtly an attempt to retaliate, it will likely depend heavily on whether the US ends up doing anything against RT, and likely will just remain in motion as a threatened tit-for-tat move.
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