Russia warns of retaliation over RT credential withdrawal

Russia warns of retaliation over RT credential withdrawal
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The Kremlin on Thursday railed against the withdrawal of the Capitol Hill media credentials for a Russian state-funded news network, calling the move an attack on press freedom and warning of an "emotional response" from Russian lawmakers.

In a conference call with reporters, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, decried the decision by the Congressional Radio and TV Correspondents' gallery to pull credentials for RT.

“Such hostile and undemocratic decisions can’t be left without an answer,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “You don’t have to be a soothsayer to forecast an emotional response from our lawmakers regarding the U.S. media.”

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According to the AP, senior Russian lawmakers said that U.S. correspondents working in Russia could lose their press access to Russian government agencies and parliament in response to the decision to revoke RT's Capitol Hill credentials. 

In a letter reported by CNN on Thursday, Radio-Television Correspondents' Association Chairman Craig Caplan informed RT news director Mikhail Solodovnikov that the outlet's credentials would be pulled, because gallery rules "state clearly that news credentials may not be issued to any applicant employed by any 'foreign government or representative thereof.' "

The move came days after Putin signed off on a law allowing Russian authorities to label non-Russian media outlets as "foreign agents" — a measure intended as retaliation for the U.S. making RT register as such.

The U.S. intelligence community has alleged that RT was used by the Russian government as part of a campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.