Top Russian independent TV station branded a ‘foreign agent’

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities have designated a top independent TV channel as a “foreign agent,” intensifying pressure on critical media ahead of next month’s parliamentary election. The Justice Ministry announced Friday that the Dozhd (Rain) TV channel and the Vazhnye Istorii (Importrant Stories) investigative online outlet have been added to the list of “foreign agents” along with seven of its journalists. The label implies closer government scrutiny and carries a strong pejorative connotation that could discourage potential viewers. Dozhd has been sharply critical of Russian authorities’ crackdown on dissent and regularly carried live reports from opposition protests. It has extensively covered the poisoning and the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.