Economy

Russia labels Voice of America, 8 other media 'foreign agents'

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty also targeted

HONG KONG (CNNMoney) - Russia is labeling nine U.S. government-backed news outlets -- including Voice of America -- as foreign agents.

It's the latest move in an escalating dispute between Moscow and Washington over media organizations operating in the two countries.

Russia's Justice Ministry designated the outlets, which also include Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as foreign agents, the country's state-run news agency Tass reported Tuesday.

The announcement comes less than a month after the production company behind the American version of the Russian state-funded network RT was forced to register as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Russia had threatened to take action against U.S. media outlets operating in the country in retaliation.

The other seven entities designated by Moscow are Russian-language outlets linked to Voice of America or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They are Current Time TV, Azatliq Radiosi, Sibir Realii, Idel Realii, Factograf, Kavkaz Realii and Krym Realii.

The news organizations are funded by the U.S. government. At least some of them received letters in October warning them of unspecified restrictions.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. agency that oversees the news organizations, said the decision by Russian authorities to follow through with the "foreign agent" designation has not affected its current programming.

"While the Russian government has indicated that the new designation will come with additional limitations on our work in Russia, the nature of these limitations is unknown at this time," said BBG spokesperson Nasserie Carew.

"We will therefore continue our work of providing accurate and objective news to our Russian speaking audiences," Carew added.

Radio Free Europe already faces severe restrictions in distributing its content within Russia. It has a bureau in Moscow that employs more than 50 people, including Russian nationals.

-- Clare Sebastian and Hadas Gold contributed to this report.


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