Russian Lawmakers Approve New Restrictions On Foreign Media
Enlarge this photograph toggle caption Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Russia’s State Duma has adopted restrictions on foreign media outlets, days after the U.S. Justice Section forced a Russian Television station’s production firm to join up as a overseas agent working in the U.S.
“A complete of 409 lawmakers out of 450 voted for the amendments, no person voted against them or abstained,” Russian state media Tass reported.
Passage of the measure in the State Duma, Russia’s lower residence of parliament, came days after the company behind Television channel RT America filed paperwork under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.
Announcing the registration previously this week, the Justice Section said, “Americans have the right to know who is acting in america to impact the U.S. government or open public on behalf of foreign principals.”
In its submitting, the company said that while it gets a “substantial” amount of its cash from Russia’s government, it does not try to influence political discourse.
From Moscow, NPR’s Lucian Kim reports:
“Critics say the improvements could have a good chilling influence on journalists working in Russia, just as similar legislation had in non-governmental organizations.
“The upper residence of parliament is expected to give its stamp of acceptance next week – and send the bill on to the Kremlin for President Vladimir Putin to signal.”
Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said after the bill’s passage by one chamber of parliament, “Any encroachment in the freedom of Russian media abroad is not and will not be left without a good condemnation and a tit-for-tat response of Moscow,” according to Tass.
In Russia, the overseas agent label “would apply if the outlet is either registered abroad, receives foreign funding or gets paid by a Russian company that is itself financed from abroad,” The Moscow Times reports.
Under the new laws, Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, can “immediately block websites,” Tass reports.