In a fact-check headlined “RT’s FARA Examined. Part I,” Polygraph.info revealed direct ties between the Russian government and the shell company “T&R Production,” under which RT operates in the United States.
From the registration documents obtained from several Russian government agencies, Polygraph.info showed how RT is subordinate to the Russian government, and also provided evidence documenting direct Russian government funding of RT operations.
Polygraph.info’s investigation of RT’s FARA filing bore out the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that “RT has positioned itself as a domestic U.S. channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian Government.”
(“Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.’ The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.”)
In its FARA filing, RT described its “foreign principal” as an “NGO – nongovernment organization registered under the law of the Russian Federation.” However, the registration documents in Russia shows that this “NGO” is just one brick in a pyramid, at the top of which sits the Russian government.
The pyramid consists of five firms and institutions. At the top are two government agencies – the Federal Agency for State Property Management and the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications. Below them are the government-owned broadcaster RIA Novosti (MIA Rossia Segodnya), RT’s Russian umbrella ANO TV-Novosti, and RT’s American umbrella T&R Production.
Another finding involves the role RT’s chief-in-editor Margarita Simonyan plays in the overall multilevel scheme built to hide the ties between RT and the Kremlin.
Simonyan, who was until recently identified to the Western audience as RT’s editor-in-chief, was identified, apparently for the first time, as “Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief” in a November 21, 2017 RT report.
In fact, she was appointed to the position with Sputnik four years ago, in December 2013.
Sputnik is Russia’s other international broadcaster, and submitted its own FARA registration forms on November 15 under a shell company called Reston Translator.
The fact that Simonyan’s affiliation with Sputnik was kept low profile for four years appears to validate the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that RT deliberately attempted to pass itself off as an “independent” news outlet. With Simonyan’s position as Sputnik’s top manager, RT’s entire “NGO” fiction falls apart. The registration in Russia of Sputnik’s parent agency, MIA Rossia Segodnya, reveals the government-owned pyramid: “Registered and owned by Russian Federation.”
However, Sputnik and RT are not the only firms listing Margarita Simonyan as chief editor.She is also editor-in-chief of RT’s foreign principal ANO TV-Novosti – the organization “on behalf” of which RT “produces news programs and talk shows that can be distributed in the USA and globally,” as stated in RT’s FARA documents.
Two of Symonyan’s reporters are listed as CEOs of the RT’s U.S. umbrella T&R Production and its Russian umbrella ANO TV-Novosti.
Therefore Simonyan, while not mentioned in any of RT’s or Sputnik FARA documents, remains the key manager of both entities and is directly subordinated to the CEO of the Russian government agency MIA Rossia Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov.
When asked about the creation of MIA Rossia Segodnya back in December 2013, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said: “"The instruments of propaganda, you know, are an essential attribute of any state. That is [the case] everywhere. Accordingly, it must also be so in Russia.”
Apart from her professional activities, Margarita Symonyan, according to the Russian Taxation Agency, is owner of a private enterprise which, along with “broadcasting services,” is licensed to provide services in hotel, restaurant businesses and “professional membership organizations.” Oddly, while the “Simonyan enterprise” was registered in June 2011, its first filing with Russia’s tax authorities is dated March 2017.