Russian legislators approve bill targeting foreign media

15 November, 2017, 13:06 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Russia warns US media of possible foreign agent status

Foreign media operating in Russian Federation will be classified as "foreign agents" under new rules passed at second reading by the country's lower house of parliament Wednesday, local news agency RIA reported.

A Russian law adopted in 2012 forces NGOs that have global funding and whose activities are deemed "political" to undergo intensive checks and label themselves as "foreign agents" on paperwork and statements.

The third reading is seen as a formality, after which the amendments will have to be passed by the Senate and then be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

Once registered, they will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations.

The motion, prepared by the State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and heads of all four parliamentary parties was passed by a unanimous vote.

Its passing follows RT registering with the US Justice Department following claims from US intelligence agencies that the television channel served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

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"I would like to hope that it will only be used once and there will be no need for more retaliatory action", he added.

After acquiring this status, these media outlets will be subject to the restrictions and responsibilities, which are now envisaged for non-governmental organizations designated as foreign agents.

The law, passed after massive anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow, requests all groups that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined political activities to register as foreign agents.

The label would apply if the outlet is either registered overseas, receives foreign funding or gets paid by a Russian company that is itself financed from overseas, the State Duma announced on Tuesday.

That law, heavily criticised by western governments, was an attempt by Moscow to insulate itself from a wave of revolutions in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Moscow said they were fomented by western governments using civil society groups as proxies.

Amnesty International said the bill was an attack on media freedom.

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