Russian Bill Labeling Individuals 'Foreign Agents' Passes First Reading

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 13, 2018

The Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, Friday approved the first reading of a bill specifying possible restrictions on media acting as "foreign agents" in Russian Federation. If a media outlet is designated as a foreign agent, it must set up a Russian legal entity, acting as a foreign agent, in order to disseminate printed information, audio and video reports, according to the bill.

"When distributing and quoting materials created by foreign media, they will have to reveal that a foreign agent was their source of information", he said.

Russia's parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill that could oblige some journalists to register as foreign agents.

At least nine news organizations funded by the USA government have been designated "foreign agents" under the original version of the law since it was signed by President Vladimir Putin last fall in retaliation to America's decision to restrict Kremlin-run media.

US officials have alleged that Russia Today (RT), used its English-language service to influence the 2016 presidential election in favour of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who had expressed intentions to rebuild the countries' frayed relations.

Moscow has called the forced registration an obstacle to Russian media activities in the United States and a violation of the freedom of speech.

The legislation would better position Russia for responding to pressure on Russian media overseas, Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoi said in comments published on the legislature's website.

"The Moldovan law represents "explicit discrimination against Russian media", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS".

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