MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. The legal criteria for recognizing foreign mass media outlets as foreign agents in Russia will have ‘just as much teeth’ as those on the books in the US, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications Committee, Alexander Yushchenko, told TASS on Friday.
State Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy earlier said that Russian lawmakers are in the process of drafting bills on tit-for-tat restrictions against media outlets financed from abroad and circulating undesirable content throughout Russia. He stressed that these measures would be taken in response to the US Justice Department’s demand that Russia’s RT television channel should register as a foreign agent. According to Tolstoy, Russia could pass a foreign agent law for mass media outlets.
"I think some practical steps, such as amendments to the law on media will follow next week," Yushchenko noted. "I believe it is necessary to enshrine some specific provisions in the legislation, namely, which foreign media outlets should be considered foreign agents," he specified.
"Our (foreign agent law) will have just as much bite as in the US," the lawmaker promised.
The US Department of Justice earlier said that the US branch of Russia’s RT television channel, RT America, should register as a foreign agent by November 13. RT Managing Director Alexey Nikolov stated at a meeting of the Provisional Commission of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) on Information Policy and Media Interaction that the TV channel had not registered as a foreign agent.
Later on, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said the TV network had to agree to register as a foreign agent, otherwise the channel would not be able to work in the US, since its bank accounts can be frozen, and its head could face arrest.