“Tit-For-Tat”: Russia Accuses CNN Of “Violating Russian Media Law”

The “Russian collusion” crusade took a bizarre turn yesterday when Twitter, apparently in the absence of any tangible evidence that Kremlin spies exploited the social media service to undermine the 2016 election, decided to publicly disclose the exact amount of advertising revenue it received from Russia Today during 2016. It’s unclear what that disclosure was intended to accomplish since even Twitter says the ads were directed at “followers of mainstream media and primarily promoted RT Tweets regarding news stories” which hardly seems like an attempt to stage a coup.

Not surprisingly, it only took Russia’s communications regulator a couple of hours to respond to Twitter’s move by threatening to crack down CNN’s operations in Russia, an outlet which the regulator says is “violating Russian media law.”

Per Reuters:

Russia’s communications regulator on Friday accused U.S. TV channel CNN International of violating Russian media law and said it had summoned the broadcaster’s representatives in connection with the matter.

The Russian foreign ministry accused Washington on Thursday of putting unwarranted pressure on the U.S operations of Kremlin-backed media outlet RT, and warned that Moscow could take tit-for-tat measures.

President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Friday that Russian media outlets working abroad were facing growing and unacceptable pressure, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement on its website that it would look at warning CNN about the alleged violations, which it said also breached the terms of its broadcast license.

It did not say what breaches of Russian laws the U.S. broadcaster had made, adding it would continue its “systematic monitoring” of foreign mass media outlets registered in Russia.

Meanwhile, Russian president Putin apparently also took note of the increased pressure on RT saying that “such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable” and that any hostile actions taken against Russian media in the U.S. would be met with a “tit-for-tat response.”

Putin, meeting permanent members of his Security Council, “touched upon the issue of ongoing and at times growing pressure on Russian mass media outlets in some foreign countries”, Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

It was stressed that such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable,” he added. He did not name the countries where the Kremlin was concerned Russian media were coming under pressure.

The Foreign Ministry’s Zakharova said any move made against Russian media working in the United States “will get a tit-for-tat response.”

And who it falls on, this should be easy for Washington to work out. The clock is ticking,” she said at a weekly briefing on Thursday.

This comes after Twitter decided to inform Congress, and the world, yesterday that they received $274,100 in advertising revenue from ‘Russia Today’ throughout 2016.

The US intelligence community released a report in January, 2017, highlighting the role that RT (Russia Today), which has strong links to the Russian government, allegedly played in seeking to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and undermine trust in American democracy. RT has accounts on Twitter and tweets regularly. The open nature of the Twitter platform means this activity was public.

Today we proactively shared with committee staff a round-up of ads that three RT accounts (@RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT) targeted to the U.S. market in 2016. As of our meetings today we believe this is the complete list from these three accounts within that time frame, but we are continuing to review our internal data and will report back to the committees as we have more to share.

Based on our findings thus far, RT spent $274,100 in U.S. ads in 2016.  In that year, the @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT accounts promoted 1,823 Tweets that definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market. These campaigns were directed at followers of mainstream media and primarily promoted RT Tweets regarding news stories.

The Twitter disclosure prompted a snarky reaction from RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan who fired back saying she wasn’t aware that paying for advertising is now considered suspicious or harmful in a developed democracy such as the United States.  She went on to say that she’s very excited to find out how much U.S. media outlets spend in the Russian segment of Twitter…you know, since advertising on social media in foreign countries now seems to be a criminal act.

This is forcing us to go a step further and come clean that we also spent money on advertising at airports, in taxis, on billboards, on the Internet, on TV and radio. Even CNN ran our commercials,” Simonyan said.

By the way, similar campaigns are conducted by the American media in the Russian segment of Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to find out how much they spend on it, who they target and for what purpose.”

Top photo | The CNN logo is shown here. (Photo Martin Oeser/dapd)


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