Russian Federation moves to gag foreign media

Russian Parliament passes law to introduce foreign agent status for media outlets

Russian Parliament passes law to introduce foreign agent status for media outlets

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.

Legislator Leonid Levin said the bill will provide a tool for the Justice Ministry to designate global media outlets as foreign agents.

State Duma's decision came in response to the recent requirement from the US Department of Justice to register RT America TV channel, the American branch of the Russian television company, as a foreign agent.

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

The Moscow-based broadcaster has become a focus of the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russian Federation has denied any interference. President Vladimir Putin accused the US of instigating them.

A total of 409 lawmakers out of 450 voted to back the amendments, while no one voted against or abstained, TASS state news agency reported.

The bill will pass to the upper house which is expected to quickly rubber-stamp it next week before it goes to Mr Putin.

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

After the registration, the news outlets would be subject to requirements that already apply to foreign-funded nongovernmental organization under a 2012 law on foreign agents.

The instruction came under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted in 1938 to counter pro-Nazi agitation on United States soil and applied to those engaged in political activity for a foreign government. It requires them to publicly declare themselves as such and regularly provide detailed information about their funding, finances and staffing. Critics of the law have said the definition of political activity is so loose that it could be used against nearly any nongovernmental organization.

Amnesty International criticised the new bill as an attack on media freedom.

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