Russia's State Duma passes amendments to foreign agent media law

Russia's State Duma passes amendments to foreign agent media law

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.

Russian lawmakers have unanimously passed a bill targeting foreign news outlets in retaliation to the Kremlin-run news channel RT's registration as a "foreign agent" in the United States.

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

Russian Federation denies it meddled in the 2016 election, and RT has accused the Justice Department of impinging on free speech.

The bill will pass to the upper house, which is expected to approve it, and then to Putin for signing in the next two weeks.

Screenshot Ruptly
Screenshot Ruptly

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.

Afterwards, a media outlet holding the status of a foreign agent will be subject to restrictions and commitments provided for non-profit organisations (foreign agents).

Under the amendments to the law, which were adopted this year, political activity is linked to such fields as state-building, securing Russia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, enforcement of law, order and security, national defense, foreign policy, political system integrity, social and economic and national development of the country, regulation of rights and freedoms of man and citizen. 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 said the bill was an attack on media freedom.

"This legislation strikes a serious blow to what was already a fairly desperate situation for press freedom in Russia", Denis Krivosheev, the group's deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement.

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