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Senior Russian Lawmaker Calls RFE/RL, VOA, And CNN Part Of U.S. ‘Pressure System’

Leonid Levin, the chairman of the information-policy committee in Russia’s parliament.
Leonid Levin, the chairman of the information-policy committee in Russia’s parliament.

A senior Russian lawmaker has called RFE/RL, Voice Of America, and CNN part of an “American system of pressure” targeting Russia.

Leonid Levin, chairman of the committee on information policy in Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, made the remarks during an April 18 committee hearing examining whether the three U.S. media outlets are in compliance with Russian laws.

The hearing comes amid heightening tensions in already frayed relations between Moscow and Washington following the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election and an escalating standoff over the civil war in Syria.

Russian lawmakers ordered the probe last month after U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat-New Hampshire) introduced a bill that would empower federal authorities to investigate RT, Russia’s state-backed international news network, for possible violations of U.S. law.

Levin called RFE/RL, VOA, and CNN “part of a broader, wide-reaching American system of pressure on our country.”

But he said his committee would not formally ask federal authorities to check whether the outlets are complying with Russian law, the Interfax news agency reported.

Putin and senior Russian officials have long accused the U.S. government of trying to stoke political unrest by funding watchdog groups and other nongovernmental organizations. Washington has repeatedly dismissed the allegations.

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.

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

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