European Union condemns Russian 'foreign agent' media law as 'threat'

Mikhail Klimentyev  Russian Presidential Press and Information Office  TASS

The amendments on foreign media went into effect after President Vladimir Putin signed off on them on Saturday, allowing Russian authorities to label outlets as "foreign agents" for receiving funding from overseas.

According to reports, Russia's Justice Ministry last week warned USA government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, along with its regional outlets, that they could be designated as foreign agents under the new law, without even allowing the law to come into effect.

The bill is based on the 2012 law that forced NGOs to adopt a "foreign agent" label if they receive funding from overseas. 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. He added that Russian Federation respects press freedom and treats foreign media equally.

The new law was published on Russia's official legal information Internet portal on November 25.




The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were among those on the list.

The law was fast-tracked through parliament during the past two weeks, and allows Moscow to force foreign media to brand their news content as the work of "foreign agents". It's yet not clear if Russian Federation will target traditional US news organizations as well. Indeed, the Russian Embassy in the U.S.

The U.S. Justice Department required RT to register in the wake of a January finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that RT and Russia's Sputnik news agency spread disinformation as part of a Russian-government effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Putin's government has repeatedly denied meddling in the election and portrayed the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the U.S.as an attack on free speech. "RFE/RL reporters are subject to harassment and even physical attack in Russian Federation".

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