Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Russian Federation moves ahead with rules targeting foreign media

Lyubimov Andrei  Moskva News Agency Lyubimov Andrei Moskva News Agency
Kenny Thornton | 15 November, 2017, 14:10

Moscow vowed to act swiftly in response to what it claims is a clampdown on Russian media in the U.S.

The lower house of Russia's parliament approved an amendment Wednesday that clears the way for media outlets that receive funding from overseas to be designated as foreign agents.

The law could be used against US media such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which receive funding from the US Congress.

Russian lawmakers have said that federal authorities would be responsible for determining which news outlets would be affected.

Russian MPs backed amendments that would allow global media that receive financing from overseas to be classified as "foreign agents", RIA Novosti news agency reported, a measure previously used only against NGOs.

On Wednesday, November 15, State Duma deputies gave the second and final third readings to the draft law on the possibility of pre-trial blocking of websites of organisations, the activities of which are banned in Russian Federation.

The bill will now pass to the upper house, which is expected to quickly rubber-stamp it next week, and then to Putin for signing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called this situation an attack on freedom of speech and members of the State Duma initiated preparation of symmetrical response measures.

Screenshot Ruptly
Screenshot Ruptly

Tolstoy told parliament the amendments would not be automatically enforced, but would be selectively applied by the justice ministry.

The amendments, which are set to be voted on today, came after the Russian state-funded RT registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent after pressure from the U.S. government.

"You shouldn't think that after this law enters force. all foreign media in Russian Federation will automatically become foreign agents", he told parliament.

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

The move is likely to effect the Russian services of major global media outlets such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

He denied it will affect any Russian media with foreign funding.

Under the 2012 law, foreign agents have to apply for inclusion in a government register, and submit regular reports on their sources of funding, their objectives, how they spend their money and who their managers are.

USA intelligence agencies have alleged that RT served as a tool for the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election.

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