In a January report by U.S. intelligence agencies, RT - formerly known as Russia Today - was characterized as the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet" and said to serve "as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences."
Subsequently, the U.S. arm of the network, RT America, was required in November to register as a "foreign agent".
“I don’t understand why any country is given a chance to make its point of view seen and heard by the world, and Russia is not given that chance,” [RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan] said. "Russia is said to be propaganda for doing exactly that. We are no more propaganda than the Voice of America or Radio Free Europe is propaganda."
- "RT's criticism of the U.S. election was the latest facet of its broader and longer-standing anti-U.S. messaging likely aimed at undermining viewers' trust in U.S. democratic procedures and undercutting U.S. criticism of Russia's political system."
- "The Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging because of their ideological beliefs."
- "In recent interviews, RT's leadership has candidly acknowledged its mission to expand its U.S. audience and to expose it to Kremlin messaging."
- "RT's reports often characterize the United States as a 'surveillance state' and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use."
- "RT America formally disassociates itself from the Russian Government by using a Moscow-based autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations ... In addition, RT rebranded itself in 2008 to deemphasize its Russian origin."
- "Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences."
Simonyan, who moved to head of RT when she was just 25, has helped make considerable changes at the network.
The network has since been through a major transformation. Rebranded from Russia Today in 2009, it's now a global, round-the-clock news network with 2,450 employees around the world, seven TV channels, digital platforms in six languages and video news agency RUPTLY.