Vladimir Putin signs off on Russian 'foreign agents' media law

Putin signs

Russian President Signs 'Foreign Agents' Media Legislation

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law on Saturday new measures allowing authorities to list foreign media outlets as "foreign agents" in response to what Moscow says is unacceptable USA pressure on Russian media.

The measure was signed in response to a similar measure taken by the US Department of Justice against Russian state-funded broadcaster RT, which claimed last week that it had been requested to register as a foreign agent in the US.

Russian Federation slammed the move as hypocrisy and an attack on media freedom. However, it would not apply to Russian media outlets backed by foreign capital. It also forces news platforms like Reuters to provide the Russian government with funding sources.

"RT and Sputnik distribute freely in the US, whereas RFE/RL has lost its broadcast affiliates in Russian Federation due to administrative pressures, and has no access to cable", it said.

The US government and intelligence community both accused RT, formerly known as Russia Today, of being a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin and of spreading false information during the 2016 presidential election. When they finally did register, RT acknowledged that its parent company, ANO TV-Novosti, was funded by the Russian government "to a substantial extent", but that the network was "not sufficiently aware of who supervises, owns, directs, controls or subsidizes ANO TV-Novosti" to actually detail those foreign ties.

Per the new Russian law, any media organization operating in Russia that receives financial support from foreign organizations or governments can now be designated a foreign agent, depending on the judgment of the Russian Ministry of Justice.

The worldwide rights organization Amnesty global has said the legislation would deal a "serious blow" to media freedom in Russia, although Russian officials have said it would not apply to domestic media.

Almost 30 environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being forced to submit waves of reports to the government or face fines for noncompliance, according to a November 22 report from Human Rights Watch.

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