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Russia’s foreign agent law may target foreign social networks

November 10, 2017, 14:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Earlier, the US Department of Justice demanded that Russia’s RT television channel should register as a foreign agent before November 13

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MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. Russia’s law on foreign agents may be updated to include a number of foreign mass media outlets and also foreign social networking sites, Russian lawmaker Sergey Neverov said on Friday.

Neverov, who heads the ruling United Russia party’s faction in the State Duma (lower house), attended a meeting with the leaders of factions and committees on working out tit-for-tat measures in response to the US steps against Russia’s RT television channel and Sputnik news agency. 

The commission, led by Deputy State Duma Speaker Pytor Tolstoy, "will draw up further mechanisms to possibly have a broader measure of influence that may also include social networks and other structures working in Russia," he said.

First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov said earlier that the Russian foreign agents law - that classifies nonprofit organizations in Russia that are involved in political activities and receive financial support from abroad as foreign agents - may also include mass media.

Russian Deputy State Duma Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy explained that "the US has restrictions on the activity of Russian mass media in social networks" and in terms of a tit-for-tat response this ban may also concern social networks.

"Social networks are also mass media. The thing is that our American colleagues want to take steps not only against television but also against disseminating content in the Internet. I think that if this issue is discussed, the measures will be rather tough," he said.

"We will search for a consensus and will work on this. Our concerns are certainly linked to the Internet space. The difference between television and the Internet is about the way of delivering content, and this is about banning the delivery of content to the US," the lawmaker added.

Earlier, the US Department of Justice demanded that RT America should register as a foreign agent before November 13. Otherwise the bank accounts of RT’s branch in the United States may be frozen and its chief put under arrest.

RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said RT would have to register itself as a foreign agent as otherwise it would have no possibility to operate in the United States.

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