Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it has asked leaders of U.S. media outlets to attend a meeting this week in Moscow. They are apparently being summoned so they can be notified of strict measures Vladimir Putin’s government intends to impose against them in response to American restrictions imposed on the Russian media.
A spokesperson for the Russian ministry said that unless the U.S. normalizes the work of Russian journalists and media operators, the “most stringent measures will inevitably follow.”
The announcement of the proposed meeting at the Foreign Ministry’s press center invited every American media outlet with a Moscow office to send their representatives so the Russians can “explain to them the consequences of their government’s hostile line in the media sphere.”
Russia has long accused the U.S. and Western nations of placing unfair restrictions on its state-run media outlets. Russia enacted legislation last month that provides its prosecutors with the power to close down foreign media offices in Moscow if it is determined that a foreign government has treated Russian media unfairly or in an “unfriendly” manner.
Under the new legislation, if journalists are found guilty of what is described as disseminating “intentionally false news” about the military operations in Ukraine, they can be subjected to a 15 year sentence in Russian state prison. As a result, some Western media outlets have decided to suspend operations inside Russia and pull their journalists and staff out of the country.
Russian prosecutors have reportedly secured the first conviction under the new law prohibiting the spreading of “false news.” Eastern Russian officials obtained the conviction last week against a person who was claimed to have posted “knowingly false” videos on a social media page earlier this year.
A spokesperson for the Biden administration’s State Department responded to a media request for comment regarding the proposed Moscow meeting by saying the United States always supports access for Russian journalists to media and the internet.