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Law restricting foreigners' stakes in registered capitals of Russian media takes effect

January 02, 6:24 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The bill was adopted by the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament on October 1, 2014 and President Vladimir Putin signed it into law on December 15, 2014
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MOSCOW, January 2. /TASS/. A law restricting the size of foreign shareholders’ stakes in the registered capitals of Russian mass media to 20% and banning the role of founders of mass media to foreigners took effect in this country as of January 1.

The bill was adopted by the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament on October 1, 2014 and President Vladimir Putin signed it into law on December 15, 2014.

The law says citizens of foreign countries and the Russians having dual citizenship cannot act as founders of mass media in Russia while foreigners cannot have stakes of over 20% in the registered capitals of Russia media.

Owners of media outlets now have time until February 1, 2017, to align their corporate structures to provisions of the law. Revised documents on the owners and founders of the outlets are to be submitted to the media and communications watchdog agency, Roskomnadzor before February 15, 2017 at the latest.

Roskomnadzor will have the power to petition to court for stopping the operations of the outlets, the revised documents on which are not submitted before the above deadline.

Alexander Zharov, the head of the agency feels that all the major media will comply with the specifications of the law regarding the size of the stakes held by foreigners.

"We’ve had consultations with all the large media holdings where foreigners have stakes," he said. "As for the large media, I feel confident all of them will fulfill (requirements of the law - TASS) and will observe it. They took counsel with us, too, on whether one or another thing is correct and whether there might be flaws in the patterns they were applying."

"If a company hasn’t informed Roskomnadzor, this doesn’t mean it hasn’t fulfilled the law," Zharov said. "In that case, we’ll do an inspection of all the several dozen media that will remain (in the market)."

Also, the watchdog expects data on small and medium-sized media until February 15, 2016.

"All in all, we have about 1,000 media outlets with foreign stakeholders and we expect information from them before February 15 - the date after which we’ll start reviewing (the data)," Zharov said.

At present, it is communicating with corporate media and instructing them on how to fulfill the requirements of law.

"Corporate media are a special story," Zharov said. "Now we’re concentrating precisely on explanations for how they can fulfill this law. The way out for them is simple enough. They are to have circulations of 999 copies so as not to get into the 1,000 and more copies category and not to fall into the realm of this law."

"Secondly, they can release their corporate information online," he said.

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