MOSCOW, Russia - The Russian parliament has approved an investigation into the Russian operations of the U.S. news media.
According to reports, the lower house of parliament ordered a probe into whether RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Voice of America, and CNN are in compliance with Russian laws.
The move by the State Duma came merely days after Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced a bill that would empower the U.S. Justice Department to investigate possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by state-backed Russian TV channel, RT.
The decades-old Foreign Agents Registration Act requires anyone working in the United States on behalf of a foreign government, “in a political or quasi-political capacity," to register with the Justice Department.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. agency that supervises international civilian government broadcasting and media operations oversees both RFE/RL and VOA.
VOA is a federal entity, while RFE/RL is a private, non-profit organisation funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress.
Further, CNN too has faces criticism from Moscow over its coverage of alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.
It has also come under fire for its reports on the purported ties between Trump’s associates and Russian officials.
The move in Russia meanwhile was introduced by a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party that holds an overwhelming majority in the Duma - Konstantin Zatulin.
The Russian initiative reported instructs the Duma’s committee on information policy to conduct the probe.
Zatulin is said to have linked the probe specifically to Shaheen’s bill.
The bill had cited an assessment by U.S. intelligence that RT was used as part of a Kremlin-directed hacking and public influence campaign aimed at helping President Donald Trump will the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
RT claims that it is editorially independent of the Kremlin, despite being funded by the Russian government.
Throughout, RT and Kremlin have denied the accusation.
Earlier this month, just like Trump, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the Atlanta-based international news network, CNN, of spreading “false news.”
Meanwhile, Shaheen told RFE/RL that it looked like her legislation had struck a nerve with the Kremlin and some Duma members.
Shaheen said in a statement, “My bill is straightforward: RT News has made public statements boasting that it can dodge our laws with shell corporations, and this legislation gives the Department of Justice the authority it needs to fully investigate.”