Russian Federation to register global media as 'foreign agents'

Russia's State Duma                  Reuters

Russia's State Duma Reuters

The third reading is seen as a formality, after which the amendments will have to be passed by the Senate and then be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

The law could require designated media outlets to disclose where they get their funding and how they spend it, though the bill does not specify on what basis foreign media would be compelled to register.

The amendments, which are set to be voted on today, came after the Russian state-funded RT registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent after pressure from the U.S. government.

US intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Foreign media operating in Russian Federation will be classified as "foreign agents" under new rules passed at second reading by the country's lower house of parliament Wednesday, local news agency RIA reported.

The bill will pass to the upper house which is expected to quickly rubber-stamp it next week before it goes to Mr Putin. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to say how tough the law would be because the draft did not spell out how it would be applied in practice.

Top Polish politicos'dream of demolishing Stalinist palace
Top Polish politicos'dream of demolishing Stalinist palace

"Any encroachment on the freedom of Russian media overseas is not and won't be left without a strong condemnation and a tit-for-tat response of Moscow", Peskov said, adding that the law will enable Russia to give a timely response.

The lower house of parliament's deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy said in parliament the reciprocal measures were "forced" by the actions of the United States.

"We are making it possible.to take selective retaliatory measures - that is the idea of the law, and I hope it will be enforced this way".

The media outlets singled out as foreign agents will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations under a 2012 law.

The instruction came under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted in 1938 to counter pro-Nazi agitation on USA soil and applied to those engaged in political activity for a foreign government.

The move is likely to effect the Russian services of major global media outlets such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. "We think it is completely unacceptable if German and European media are - as a effect of a Russian-American controversy - to be subjected to restrictions which. go against worldwide obligations that we took together".

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