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People collect water at a refugee camp for Muslims displaced by violence earlier this year in Myanmar.

China and Russia have blocked a UN Security Council statement expressing concern over the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state, where Rohingya Muslims have reportedly been subject to attacks, diplomats say.

"We did put forward...some proposed press elements, but there was not consensus in the room," Matthew Rycroft, the British UN ambassador and president of the council for March, said on March 17.

A short statement would have "noted with concern renewed fighting in some parts of the country” and would have stressed the importance of humanitarian access, according to Reuters, which said it had seen a copy of the draft.

Diplomats said Myanmar neighbor China, with Russia's support, blocked the statement from being issued. China and Russia both have veto power in the council.

Diplomats said both countries raised objections, but their UN missions did not reply to requests for comment.

The UN human rights office last month accused the Myanmar military of mass killings and rapes of Rohingya Muslims and the burning of villages.

It said its actions "very likely" amounts to crimes against humanity.

About 1.1 million Rohingya live among the country’s Buddhist majority.

Many among the Buddhist population claim the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many have lived in the country for decades.

The government of former dissident Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized by international partners for not doing enough to help the Rohingya.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

The lower house of the Russian parliament has ordered a probe into whether RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Voice of America, and CNN are in compliance with Russian laws.

The move by the State Duma on March 17 comes just days after U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat-New Hampshire) introduced a bill that would empower the Justice Department to investigate possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by RT, the state-backed Russian TV channel.

The Russian initiative was introduced by Konstantin Zatulin, a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, which holds an overwhelming majority in the Duma -- Russia's lower chamber of parliament.

Approved by lawmakers on March 17, the move instructs the Duma’s committee on information policy to probe compliance with Russian laws by VOA, CNN, and RFE/RL’s Russian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda.

Zatulin specifically linked the probe to Shaheen’s bill, which cited an assessment by U.S. intelligence that RT was used as part of a Kremlin-directed hacking and public-influence campaign aimed at helping President Donald Trump defeat his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in last year’s presidential election.

RT and the Kremlin reject the accusation. RT is funded by the Russian government, but argues it is editorially independent from the Kremlin.

Both RFE/RL and VOA are overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. agency that supervises civilian government broadcasting and media operations.

VOA is a federal entity, while RFE/RL is a private, nonprofit organization funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress.

CNN has also come under fire from Moscow over its coverage of alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election and purported ties between associates of Trump and Russian officials.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier this month accused the Atlanta-based international news network, which Trump has repeatedly criticized as well, of spreading “false news.”

Shaheen told RFE/RL that it appeared her legislation had struck a nerve with the Kremlin and some Duma members.

“My bill is straightforward: RT News has made public statements boasting that it can dodge our laws with shell corporations, and this legislation gives the Department of Justice the authority it needs to fully investigate,” Shaheen said in a statement.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a decades-old law that requires anyone working in the United States on behalf of a foreign government, “in a political or quasi-political capacity," to register with the Justice Department.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service,, RIA Novosti, and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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