MOSCOW: Russia on Wednesday accused US intelligence of seeking to recruit Russian journalists working in the country, after Washington and Moscow passed laws labelling each other's media "foreign agents".
"Recently Russian journalists, including those in the United States, have come under great pressure from the special services, notably through attempts at recruitment," Russia's foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by the Interfax agency as saying.
"This is an aggression. An aggression in terms of intelligence not only towards Russia, but also an encroachment on freedom of expression throughout the world."
The accusation came the same day Russian lawmakers voted to ban US media labelled as "foreign agents" from accessing the lower house of parliament in response to the US Congress stripping state channel RT of its credentials.
The ban was the latest development in the row over accusations Moscow interfered in US presidential elections last year. Russia has vehemently denied the claims.
There are around 20 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.
Those branded "foreign agents" have to present themselves as such on all paperwork and submit to intensive scrutiny of their staffing and financing.