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RT files paperwork with Justice Department to register as foreign agent

Moscow-based RT says the Trump administration is forcing it to file as a foreign agent by Nov. 13. The U.S. government says RT runs propaganda for the Kremlin. (Video: The Washington Post)

The company operating the RT website and television channel has filed paperwork registering with the Justice Department as a foreign agent — a step it had said it would be forced to take to keep operating in the United States.

RT, which is headquartered in Moscow and was formerly known as Russia Today, is accused by the U.S. government of being a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin.

The registration follows an acrimonious back-and-forth between RT and the Justice Department about whether they should have to file paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

RT agrees to register as an agent of the Russian government

RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan posted a statement on its website Monday, saying: “Choosing between a criminal case and registration, we have chosen the latter. Congratulations to American freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it.”

The filing, on behalf of T&R Productions, the company that operates RT, said the firm had received payments from a foreign principal identified as ANO TV-Novosti, a Russian media company. In announcing the filing, the Justice Department called ANO TV-Novosti a “Russian government entity.’’ The paperwork lists Mikhail V. Solodovnikov as the sole owner of T&R.

In the Friday filing, T&R said that the production of its programs “remains under the independent editorial control of registrant,’’ adding that T&R “respectfully disagrees that FARA should apply.’’

The filing also shows RT’s two-month budget is about $6.6 million.

RT disputes the accusation that it is an agent of the Russian government, saying it offers alternatives to mainstream news coverage.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the network
and website push relentlessly
anti-American propaganda at the behest of the Russian government.

Russian officials have pledged to pass legislation imposing similar requirements on Western media outlets.

A leading member of the pro-Kremlin party in the Russian parliament said Radio Liberty, CNN, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle could fall under a law being drafted in the Russian legislature to apply the “foreign agent’’ status to some media organizations in Russia.