Russian legislators approve bill targeting foreign media

Russian MPs back law targeting foreign media

The amendments, which are set to be voted on today, came after the Russian state-funded RT registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent after pressure from the U.S. government.

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

Legislator Leonid Levin said the bill will provide a tool for the Justice Ministry to designate worldwide media outlets as foreign agents.

Russian Federation has denied it interfered in last year's U.S. presidential election.

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech.

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 State Duma has passed an amendment, which allows the state to recognize foreign media receiving financing from overseas as "foreign agents" in third and final reading.

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The bill will pass to the upper house which is expected to quickly rubber-stamp it next week before it goes to Mr Putin.

After acquiring this status, these media outlets will be subject to the restrictions and responsibilities, which are now envisaged for non-governmental organizations designated as foreign agents.

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

According to the bill, a media organisation classified as a foreign agent will be subject to the same requirements that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations under a 2012 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.

Companies will be forced to declare their finances, funding and staffing if the rules are implemented.

Amnesty International criticised the new bill as an attack on media freedom.

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