Russian Federation moves to target foreign media in RT registration row

A sign is seen at the entrance of the compound of the Trade Representation building of the Russian Federation

A sign is seen at the entrance of the compound of the Trade Representation building of the Russian Federation

The broadly phrased bill leaves it to the Russian government to decide which foreign media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, but does not say how the determination would be made.

Russia's State Duma (lower house of parliament) voted at its meeting on Wednesday for passing the amendments that would allow to designate media outlets as foreign agents, if they are funded from overseas, APA reported citing TASS.

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

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

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

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

Citibank turned over information related to transfers deemed suspicious to federal regulators
Citibank turned over information related to transfers deemed suspicious to federal regulators

During Wednesday's debates, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin described the new legislation as a "symmetrical answer" to the U.S. and a signal that "our media can't be treated like that". Russian President Vladimir Putin called this situation an attack on freedom of speech and members of the State Duma initiated preparation of symmetrical response measures.

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

The instruction came under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted in 1938 to counter pro-Nazi agitation on USA soil and applied to those engaged in political activity for a foreign government.

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.

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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