Putin: Moscow will introduce tit-for-tat measures over US attack on Russian media
President Vladimir Putin says that Moscow will resort to reciprocal measures in response to US steps against Russian media, which he called an “attack on freedom of speech.” On Thursday, Washington ordered RT America to register as a foreign agent.
“The attack on our media is an attack on freedom of speech without any doubt. We are disappointed,” Putin said at a news briefing at the APEC summit in Vietnam on Saturday. He added that the Russian parliament is currently discussing the response and voicing “tough suggestions.”
“But we will definitely respond and it [the response] will be reciprocal,” the Russian president warned. Putin stressed that the media’s role is to provide information and express their perspective.
“It [the media’s perspective] can be challenged, but not by shutting down the media or creating conditions to make it impossible to carry out its professional activities. [It can be challenged] by presenting your own perspective, presenting your information to the audience,” the Russian leader said.
The US has chosen another approach, however, opting for virtual closure, Putin said, reiterating that the response will be adequate and reciprocal. The US measures against Russian media came even though there is zero evidence of their meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
“I want to draw your attention to the fact that there wasn’t and could not be any confirmation of our media’s meddling in the [US] election campaign,” Putin said, adding that the latest investigation in Congress shows that the Russian ads amounted merely to “some tenths or hundredths of a percent.”
The Russian president added that the scale of the ad campaigns of the Russian and the US media during the 2016 presidential election was “simply incomparable,” but in Russia’s case, it “was interpreted as meddling.”
The US Department of Justice demanded that by Monday, the company that supplies all services for RT America in the US has to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The legislation was implemented in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda on US soil. Over 400 entities are currently registered under the act, but up till now, no media outlets have been.
US President Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that Putin denied any meddling in the 2016 election during their conversations in Vietnam. “He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump said as cited by the US media. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times… He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
The US leader also said the meddling allegations are an insult to his Russian counterpart. “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it… I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country,” Trump said aboard Air Force One on the way to Hanoi.