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Foreign agent law to target individuals sponsored by countries hindering Russian media

December 21, 2017, 12:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On November 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments that introduce regulations on media outlets that fulfill the function of foreign agents

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State Duma committee head, Leonid Levin

State Duma committee head, Leonid Levin

© Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. Russia’s legislation regulating the activity of foreign agent-labeled media will affect individuals bankrolled from countries that restrict Russian media, head of the State Duma (lower house) Committee for Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communication Leonid Levin said on Thursday.

"When we speak about individuals, this refers only to persons that receive funding from state sources directly or indirectly in those countries that restrict the activity of Russian mass media," said Levin, who is one of co-authors of the initiative.

Both documents - the foreign agent law and the new bill that specifies their activity in Russia - will be used only for tit-for-tat measures and not for regulating media in Russia, the lawmaker emphasized. "We will welcome any steps to de-escalate the curbing of information and if they take place, we will unquestionably support this," he said.

Earlier Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy told TASS that the amendments would primarily affect the owners of mass media outlets.

On Tuesday, a bill was submitted to the lower house under which media outlets classified as foreign agents in Russia should be bound to register as Russian legal entities. Access to media resources disseminating materials of foreign agent media without special designation may be also banned.

On November 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments that introduce regulations on media outlets that fulfill the function of foreign agents. As a result of the legal provisions, a news outlet can be classified as a foreign agent if financed from abroad.

The norms adopted in Russia came as a response to the demands by the US Department of Justice that RT America register as a foreign agent in the United States. In addition, RT reporters also lost their Capitol Hill credentials. In retaliation, the State Duma intends to withdraw the credentials of US news outlets classified as foreign agents, and the Federation Council may follow suit.

On December 5, the Russian Justice Ministry identified nine media outlets as "foreign agents." These are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, (RFE/RL), Current Time TV, Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkir service (Azatliq Radiosi), Sibir.Realii, Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii, Krym.Realii and project Faktograf. Reporters from these media outlets have been barred from entering the Federation Council.

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