The US State Department on Friday condemned Moscow for trying to “stifle press freedom,” less than two weeks ahead of a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“The Russian government continues to stifle press freedom and media independence,” the State Department said in a statement.
It singled out what it described as Moscow’s “selective targeting” of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America — which receive US government funding — “under Russia’s law on ‘foreign agent’ media outlets.”
The law was passed after Russian state-controlled television channel RT bowed to pressure from Washington and registered as a foreign agent in the United States last year.
The State Department also called on Moscow “to respect the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, in Russia.”
The State Department criticism of media rights in Russia came just 10 days ahead of the planned head-to-head between the US and Russian leaders.
On Thursday, Trump insisted that he will be “totally prepared” for the meeting in Finland, mocking journalists who raised questions about his lack of experience.
“I might even end up having a good relationship” with Putin, the real estate mogul said.
Trump himself has a rocky relationship with journalists. On Thursday he alleged that 75 percent are “downright dishonest,” and has called them “the enemy of the people.”