- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2017

Perhaps the golden arches are bugged. Perhaps the “special sauce” in the Big Mac is a secret helping of espionage.

Members of Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, are reportedly considering a move to label McDonald’s, KFC and other American fast-food chains as “foreign agents” under a bill that was originally drafted to force U.S.-funded media outlets to register with the government.

The Moscow Times reported Friday that State Duma Deputy Boris Chernyshov has sent a letter to Russia’s food and media monitoring agency asking that ads for the fast-food chains be labeled as coming from a foreign agent. The lawmaker said the logical next step would be to list the chains as foreign agents themselves.

“Research has shown that food sold by American fast-food restaurants is damaging to people’s health,” Mr. Chernyshov told the Russian online news service RBC, according to the Moscow Times report. “But ads show only the positive side of consuming these projects.”

The Russian legislature earlier this month pushed through legislation that would require U.S.-funded news outlets such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty operating in Russia to register with the government as foreign agents.

Backers of the bill, which President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign, say it is a retaliation for new reporting and financial disclosure requirements the Trump administration’s Justice Department recently imposed on Russia’s state-funded Sputnik and the RT television network. U.S. intelligence agencies say the outlets effectively serve as propaganda arms of the Kremlin.

Human rights groups say the proposed Russian law is written so broadly that it may require other U.S. and Western media outlets working to register as foreign agents.

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