The Russian parliament could bar American media from reporting within its walls in retaliation for the controversial withdrawal of the Kremlin-funded television station Russia Today's credentials in the United States.
Olga Savastyanova of the State Duma told Russian news agencies on Friday that she expects the Duma to adopt the ban next week. Separately, Igor Morozov, member of the information policy committee at the Federation Council, told the RIA Novosti news agency that the upper chamber of the Russian parliament would support the ban and could vote to enforce it later this month.
A United Russia party lawmaker, Savastyanova said the Russian Duma will vote on the ban on December 6. It is unlikely that the proposal would be rejected by the overwhelmingly pro-Kremlin assembly.
"The ban will impact all American media," she said, according to the Duma's official website.
Foreign correspondents in the Russian Federation can currently access the Russian parliament and some government agencies with their press credentials issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. There are 21 American media outlets accredited to work in Russia, according to the website of the foreign ministry which keeps the register and issues documents to journalists.
"After the decree regarding closing access for American journalists to the Duma building is passed, we will work out all organizational and technical issues with the foreign ministry," Savastyanova said.
The ban would apply to US media rather than journalists from other foreign countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"Such outrageous attacks on foreign media, in particular Russian media, go against the international practice of freedom of speech and unfortunately flourish in full Technicolor in the US," he said.
A committee that governs Capitol Hill access for broadcast journalists on Wednesday withdrew the credentials of the government-funded Russia Today after the company complied earlier this month with a U.S. demand that it register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That means RT's reporters will not be able to have as much access to Congress as other foreign media.
Russia has denounced the move as a violation of media freedom.
The U.S. move and the Russian threats of retaliation follow the endorsement of a new Russian bill that allowed the government to designate international media outlets as foreign agents in response to the U.S. demand made to the Russia Today TV channel.
Asked about the possible ban for U.S. media to report from the Russian parliament, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday he views the initiative "with understanding."
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