World

Russian Federation drafts legislation targeting foreign media

Russian Federation drafts legislation targeting foreign media

"Any infringement on the freedom of Russian media overseas will not be left without a harsh answer", Peskov said.

Likely targets are USA news organizations which receive government funding, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, as well as the privately-owned American television channel CNN.

Members of parliament have given contradictory statements on whether the law could apply to commercial TV network CNN.

"Regarding Deutsche Welle, I hope that there would be no measures taken regarding its registration as a 'foreign agent", he told the Russian state news agency TASS.

"A hybrid war has been declared against us and we are obliged to respond", Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said in parliament.

The label would apply if the outlet is either registered overseas, receives foreign funding or gets paid by a Russian company that is itself financed from overseas, the State Duma announced on Tuesday. The law will enter into force after it is endorsed by the upper house, the Federation Council, and is signed by the president.

The wording of the bill passed Wednesday was so vague that it could be used against any news outlet based overseas with operations in Russian Federation.




The broadly phrased bill will leave it to the Russian government to determine which media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, said Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma committee for information.

The measure approved Wednesday does not specify which media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, or how the process would work.

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.

A Russian law adopted in 2012 forces NGOs that have global funding and whose activities are deemed "political" to undergo intensive scrutiny of their finances and staffing and label themselves as "foreign agents" on paperwork and statements. Besides, they will face the same responsibility for law violations.

Outlets such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which receive funding from the US Congress, would be forced to register as foreign agents.

The proposal, in retaliation for Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT being told to register as a foreign agent in the USA, has been approved at the lower house of parliament. Many US politicians accused the two Russian outlets of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.


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