Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Russia: Kremlin tightens stranglehold on foreign media with more repressive legislation

Russia: Kremlin tightens stranglehold on foreign media with more repressive legislation

The screen shows the results of vote on the amendments to the Russia's Law on Media in the 3rd (final) reading during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma on November 15.

Russia's lower house of parliament on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill allowing the government to register worldwide media outlets as foreign agents, a swift retaliation to the US demands made to a Russian TV channel.

Russian Federation is moving ahead with legislation that threatens USA media outlets operating in the country.

Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Isayev said he hoped German media would not be affected by the new regulations.

The law could be used against US media such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which receive funding from the US Congress.

"A hybrid war has been declared against us and we are obliged to respond", Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said in parliament.

The broadly phrased bill will leave it to the Russian government to determine which foreign media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, said Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma committee for information.

The amendments under consideration in Russia were proposed by lawmakers in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature.

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The bill was sent to Russia's upper house of parliament to be rubber-stamped before being submitted to President Vladimir Putin for final approval.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the legislation will provide the necessary framework for the government to retaliate to any foreign action against the Russian media.

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.

Amnesty International has warned the law will allow the Russian authorities "to tighten their stranglehold on press freedom".

Many NGOs have closed in response to the legislation.

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.

Washington considers RT a propaganda arm of the Kremlin and told it to register its American operation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act aimed at lobbyists and lawyers representing foreign political interests.

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

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