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

15 Novembre 2017

Under the new rules, Russia's ministry of justice will determine which companies will be labeled foreign agents.

Russia's lower house of parliament has unanimously approved a bill allowing the government to register global media outlets as foreign agents, days after the USA demanded the same of the Russian state-funded RT television channel.

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.

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

US intelligence agencies have alleged that RT served as a tool for the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The third reading is seen as a formality, after which the amendments will have to be passed by the Senate and then be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had described the U.S. demand of RT as an attack on freedom of speech and warned that Russia would retaliate.

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Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed in the third and final reading a law on designating media outlets as foreign agents if they receive funding from overseas.

In comments to The Washington Post outside of the Duma hall, Pyotr Tolstoy, a former journalist and talk show host turned lawmaker who led the drafting of the legislation, said he expected the law to target a small number of news agencies at first, but could possibly grow if Russian Federation believes more of its news agencies are being pressured overseas.

"I would like to hope that it will only be used once and there will be no need for more retaliatory action", he added.

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.

The law requests all groups that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined political activities to register as foreign agents.

Critics of the law have said the definition of political activity is so loose that it could be used against nearly any non-governmental organisation.

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

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