Russian MPs back law targeting foreign media: Agencies

Cheryl Sanders
November 15, 2017

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

Russian lawmakers submitted legal amendments Tuesday that would allow the government to register global media outlets as foreign agents, a retaliatory move to a demand the US made to a Russian TV channel.

In the USA, outlets designated as foreign agents must file reports with the Justice Department regarding their funding and organization, as well as regular updates on their activities.

"Any encroachment on the freedom of Russian media overseas is not and won't be left without a strong condemnation and a tit-for-tat response of Moscow", Peskov said, adding that the law will enable Russia to give a timely response.

Vyacheslav Volodin

Members of parliament have given contradictory statements on whether the law could apply to commercial TV network CNN.

Once the amendments are passed, the "foreign agents law" will also apply to all foreign media working in Russia, as well as Russian news publications funded or in any way financially assisted from overseas.

The screen shows the results of vote on the amendments to the Russia's Law on Media in the 3rd (final) reading during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma on November 15. "Every time, Russian Federation is going to take hard response measures".

The bill will go to the upper house and then to President Vladimir Putin for signing.

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

Previously, the US Justice Department ordered Russia's foreign broadcaster RT, formerly Russia Today, and the Sputnik news agency to register as agents of a foreign government.

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

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the legislation will provide the necessary framework for the government to retaliate to any foreign action against the Russian media.

A Russian law adopted in 2012 forces NGOs that have worldwide funding and whose activities are deemed "political" to undergo intensive scrutiny of their finances and staffing and label themselves as "foreign agents" on paperwork and statements.

The new bill expands the scope of the 2013 so-called foreign agents law which primarily targeted NGOs, forcing several of the most reputable to close and many more to curtail their work.

The Moscow-based broadcaster has become a focus of the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Other reports by iNewsToday