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Russian Federation to register global media as 'foreign agents'
15 November 2017, 02:11 | Devin Moran
Vyacheslav Prokofyev TASS
The law, which is focused on media, is considerably broader than the US legislation, which only targets state-funded organizations.
Russian lawmakers submitted legal amendments Tuesday that would allow the government to register global media outlets as foreign agents, a retaliatory move to a demand the US made to a Russian TV channel.
US-backed Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty could be hit.
Under the new rules, Russia's ministry of justice will determine which companies will be labeled foreign agents.
Members of parliament have given contradictory statements on whether the law could apply to commercial TV network CNN.
The legislation is widely expected to pass a third reading in the Duma, before moving to the upper house for approval.
"A hybrid war has been declared against us and we are obliged to respond", Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said in parliament.
Russian MPs backed amendments that would allow worldwide media that receive financing from overseas to be classified as "foreign agents", RIA Novosti news agency reported, a measure previously used only against NGOs. "Every time, Russian Federation is going to take hard response measures".
"I very much hope that we will not fight [with Germany] and, accordingly, measures regarding German media will not be taken", said Isayev, who serves as deputy head of the United Russia party's faction in the Duma.
Non-compliant foreign organizations could be blocked without a court order in Russian Federation.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the legislation will provide the necessary framework for the government to retaliate to any foreign action against the Russian media.
The law, which was passed in the wake of massive anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow, requests all groups that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined political activities to register as foreign agents.
Amnesty International has warned the law will allow the Russian authorities "to tighten their stranglehold on press freedom".
The move comes in response to a U.S. Justice Department requirement that RT register as a foreign agent due to its alleged role in interfering in U.S. affairs and the 2016 presidential elections by pushing the Kremlin's agenda.
The new bill expands the scope of the 2013 so-called foreign agents law which primarily targeted NGOs, forcing several of the most reputable to close and many more to curtail their work.
Washington considers RT a propaganda arm of the Kremlin and told it to register its American operation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act aimed at lobbyists and lawyers representing foreign political interests.
US intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.
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