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Putin signs plan to crack down on foreign media

Putin signs plan to crack down on foreign media
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a law that permits Russian authorities to label non-Russian media outlets as "foreign agents," in a move seen as retaliation against the U.S. 

The law passed quickly through both Russian houses of parliament over the past two weeks, and was signed into law by Putin on Saturday, according to Reuters

The measure allows the Kremlin to force foreign media to register as foreign agents, and disclose the sources of their funding. 

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Moscow's move was in response to the Justice Department's decision to force the  Russian state-owned outlet RT to register as a foreign agent, a sign that the broadcaster's content would be labeled as propaganda. 

The actions come during ongoing federal and congressional probes into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in last year's election. 

The Justice Department had set a Nov. 13 deadline for RT to register as a foreign agent after a January intelligence report said the outlet spearheaded "strategic messaging for [the] Russian government," fueling political conflicts in the U.S. during the 2016 campaign. 

Russia responded to the U.S. measure earlier this month, promising an "an immediate symmetrical response."

"The Russian side has repeatedly warned that any measures limiting activity of the Russian mass media in the United States will inevitably trigger an immediate symmetrical response, as provided for in the Russian legislation," the Russian Embassy said in a statement earlier this month. 

This would not be the first time the Kremlin has taken aim at foreign media. 

Russia has issued threats against Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America, which both are recipients of U.S. government funding, as well as the privately owned CNN, which the Kremlin says puts out anti-Russian reporting.