Documents containing information on financing of the RT (Russia Today) television channel have appeared on the website of the US Department of Justice, just one day after the company registered as a Foreign Agent under the relevant law (FARA).
The documents suggest that RT does not know the Russia-based sources from which it receives money that helps finance its work.
The television channel explains in its registration statement that the American structure behind it, T&R Productions LLC, works with the Russia-based independent nonprofit organization TV Novosti, and that Russia is “largely” funded by the nonprofit. TV Novosti is registered in Moscow at 3 Borovaya Street. At the same time, the documents, which were first noticed by the publication Meduza, suggest that the registered agent is not aware of "who regulates, owns, manages, controls or sponsors the nonprofit TV Novosti.” In answer to a question about who owns the nonprofit TV Novosti, the questionnaire says that the registered agent "is not sufficiently informed about these facts in order to answer the question." In 2017, the nonprofit TV Novosti is budgeted to receive 19 billion rubles (about $316 million) from the Russian budget, wrote RBC news agency.
Journalist Alexei Kovalev noted on his Twitter that the documents on the FARA website "carefully redact" the contract clause, which should indicate the amount of payment that the “agent” receives from a foreign principal.
Accompanying documents to the application for inclusion in the Register of Foreign Agents showed that over the past 60 days, RT received $350 thousand from the nonprofit TV Novosti to fund the production of video transmissions. Another document notes that the head of T&R Productions LLC, Mikhail Solodovnikov, receives a salary of $670,000 a year, and the American company’s spending for August and September totaled more than $ 6.5 million.
The documents also note that the company does not agree with the requirement to register for FARA. They note that the production of transmissions for RT "remains under the independent editorial control of the registrant." In the papers, the applicant argues that the purpose of the channel is "to inform, not to influence," and that its programs are not aimed at promoting the goals of "a foreign government or political party."
The day before, it was reported that RT had registered as a Foreign Agent in the United States, in accordance with the requirements of the US Department of Justice. This means that the TV channel will be required to provide information about its funding and disseminated materials to the American authorities once every few months. The State Duma, in response, decided to adopt amendments requiring some foreign media, including Radio Liberty, Deutsche Welle and CNN, to register as foreign agents under the threat that their websites would be blocked. The Amendments can be adopted in three readings by November 15.