Russian Lower House Backs Amendment on Foreign Agent Media

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RT's editor-in-chief has offered her condolences to all journalists caught up in "Washington's political games" following the recent foreign-agent bill approved by Russian MPs in a "mirror response" to U.S. measures.

The U.S. demand for RT to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) came after American intelligence agencies singled out the network in their report into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Deputy speaker of the lower house Pyotr Tolstoy said Tuesday the amendments will give the Justice Ministry the authority to register foreign media outlets or Russian media funded from overseas as foreign agents. They would be subject to additional requirements and failure to meet them could result in the suspension of their activities. That has news organizations scrambling to see how it would affect their operations, and Russian rights groups fearful of another crackdown on freedom of speech. Russian Federation has denied any interference.

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.

The law will enter into force after it is endorsed by the upper house, the Federation Council, and is signed by the president. "The foreign funding could become a pretext to crack down on them. The way it is written now, it appears it could be used for many different purposes". "This latest legislation takes obstacles for media working in Russian Federation to a whole new level".

Vyacheslav Volodin
State Duma passes amendment on media classified as “foreign agents”

"The Kremlin has been tirelessly building a media echo chamber that shuts out critical voices", Mr. Krivosheev said, "both inside Russian Federation and from overseas".

The German government also strongly criticized the legislation.

The amendments were added to the draft law on extrajudicial blocking of organizations' websites banned in Russian Federation which was adopted in October.

"We view this new media law with concern and surprise", Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Rainer Breul noted that the legislation hasn't yet passed so "it is perhaps a bit early to talk about the concrete consequences".

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