MOSCOW, November 25. /TASS/. During a plenary session on Monday, the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) has approved the bill on additional regulations for media outlets deemed foreign agents.
According to the new bill, the existing law on foreign agents will include individuals as well as legal entities on the list of those that can potentially be considered foreign agents. Individuals can be deemed foreign agents if they spread information to an unrestricted number of persons, namely on the Internet, and receive funding from abroad. Financing includes money or property received from foreign states, their government bodies, international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens or from Russian legal entities receiving funding from these sources. This move came as a response to the demands of the US Department of Justice for RT America (the US branch of the Russian television network) to register as a foreign agent in the United States.
The Russian Ministry of Justice will be in charge of registering foreign agents active in Russia, deciding to include an individual or a legal entity on the list after consulting with the Russian Foreign Ministry. In order to work in Russia, the foreign media outlet considered a foreign agent must establish a Russian legal entity within a month of receiving such status and notify the Ministry of Justice. It will also be obliged to mark all its publications with a note specifying its status of a foreign agent.
The new norms allow the Russian government to block websites of foreign agents or legal entities established by them in case the information published by foreign media outlets violates Russian regulations.
In late 2017, Russia introduced a law on media outlets exercising the role of foreign agents. According to the law, a media outlet receives the status of a foreign agent if it receives funding from abroad. In January 2018, the Russian State Duma approved the first reading of another bill that obliges all media with the status of foreign agents to establish a Russian legal entity to work in Russia and includes individuals on the list of potential foreign agents.
The Russian State Duma approved the new bill on additional measures to the law on foreign agents on November 21. It will enter into force upon its official publication.