Moscow threatens US media with retaliation for sanctions on Russia

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attends a joint news conference held by Russian Foreign Minister and German Foreign Minister following their meeting in Moscow, Jan. 18, 2022. (AFP/VOA)

Moscow on Monday issued a retaliation warning to several U.S. media sites in response to what it regards as curbs on Russian media.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova met with a dozen American media journalists. According to a journalist with knowledge of the discussion, she made it clear that "if the U.S. government doesn't change its attitude toward Russian journalists working in the United States, Russia will carry out similar action against us."

VOA will not disclose the journalist's identity due to security concerns.

The journalist continued, "During the meeting, Zakharova (said that) accreditation and, by extension, visas would be extended for only three months, and if the U.S. doesn't improve its current treatment of Russian journalists, they would ban us from working in Russia,"

The Russian government typically renews accreditation and visas for foreign journalists every year.

The warning was sent after the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three state-owned Russian television stations last month for operating directly or indirectly on behalf of the Kremlin.

Zakharova noted challenges for Russian journalists in the United States, including visa renewals, blocked bank accounts, and alleged harassment by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to two journalists familiar with the discussion who spoke to VOA.

She stated that many Russian corporations were unable to pay their journalists in the United States or cover other expenses due to sanctions.

In response to Moscow's action, the United States mentioned Russia's limits on media freedom and information access.

Blocking and banning independent media outlets, threatening professional journalists, and attempting to seal off Russia's population from any foreign information demonstrate "the flimsiness and the fragility of the Russian government's narrative," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a Monday afternoon press briefing.

Price stated, "The Russians continue to make a false equivalency," "The United States continues to issue visas to qualified Russian journalists, and we have not revoked the foreign press center credentials of any Russian journalists working in the United States." the statement reads.

War reporting

Since invading Ukraine, Russia has imposed several media-related restrictions and created new legislation.

In May, Russia's legislators enacted a law that gives prosecutors the authority to close foreign media bureaus in Moscow if a Western nation is deemed "unfriendly" to Russia.

A new law imposes a 15-year prison sentence on media who disseminate "fake" about Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

And on Monday, Russia penalized Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a sister network of VOA, $325,000 (20 million rubles) for failing to remove what Moscow considers "fake" war news.

According to Reuters, the sanction stemmed from Radio Liberty's reluctance to censor reports containing civilian and Russian military death figures.

According to the International Press Institute in Vienna, at least 72 journalists covering Ukraine have been imprisoned or charged by Russian authorities.

In addition, the country's media regulator has barred access to news websites, such as VOA's Russian Service and the BBC.

In addition to the penalties imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department on Russia One, Channel One, and NTV, the European Union, Canada, and private distribution businesses in the U.S. have already taken steps to halt broadcasts of the Kremlin-backed RT.

Journalists in the Netherlands are actively protesting the EU ban, arguing that it gives the government too much power.

A Dutch journalists' organization filed a challenge against the RT ban with the EU Court of Justice on May 25. In it, the union asserts that while it does not support the Kremlin-backed organization, the EU ban was overly broad and permitted politicians to censor.

"We are all of the opinions that disinformation is a big issue in our society. Censorship is an easy solution, but it is not the correct solution "Reuters reported the union.

Visa dangers

China fired journalists from many U.S. newspapers and imposed visa restrictions on several U.S. media groups during a political dispute between the United States and China in 2020.

Its measures were in response to the United States decreasing the number of Chinese nationals permitted to work in the U.S. offices of major Chinese state-owned media and limiting their authorized stay to 90 days with the possibility of extending it.

Thanos Dimadis, executive director of the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States, stated, "By their actions, the Russian and Chinese regimes have demonstrated that they view press freedom and independent journalism as threats to their countries' pseudo-democracies,"

According to him, authoritarian countries target journalists without hesitation and position journalism at the center of their geostrategic aspirations.

"These regimes consider journalists, and especially foreign journalists working in their countries, as agents of foreign interests and not as servants of truth," Dimadis explained.

It is not surprising that regimes like Russia and China are antagonistic to the truth and those who report it, such as journalists, are also their opponents.

Publish : 2022-06-07 08:09:00

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