Russia: Kremlin tightens stranglehold on foreign media with more repressive legislation

Russian Parliament passes law to introduce foreign agent status for media outlets

"Americans have a right to know who is acting in the United States to influence the U.S. government or public on behalf of foreign principals", said the U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Dana J. Boente, in a statement announcing RT's registration.

The proposed Russian law appears far broader in its potential application, covering all foreign media organizations, not only state-run outlets.

The amendments were added to the draft law on extrajudicial blocking of organizations' websites banned in Russian Federation which was adopted in October.

RT is accused of being part of Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election.

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech.

RT's editor-in-chief has offered her condolences to all journalists caught up in "Washington's political games" following the recent foreign-agent bill approved by Russian MPs in a "mirror response" to USA measures. Outlets that refuse to register as foreign agents will face sanctions similar to those applied to NGOs and other groups, which are now regulated by the original foreign-agents law.


Russian Federation denies it meddled in last year's election campaign, and RT has accused the Justice Department of infringing on free speech.

Maria Lipman, an independent Moscow-based analyst, said the new legislation looks "intentionally blurred" and will work "as a truncheon raised in the air, so that various organizations. should be intimidated not knowing whose head this truncheon will hit". "Over the last couple of years, the Kremlin has been tirelessly building a media echo chamber that shuts out critical voices, both inside Russian Federation and from overseas".

Putin has been fiercely critical of US measures towards Russian media, but he has not given wholehearted support to the draft legislation, saying at the weekend it "might be a little too harsh".

He noted that the measure would allow Russian Federation to mirror the USA demands for RT or any other such action taken by other countries.

"Ultimately a lot will depend on how exactly the law is implemented and to what extent it restricts foreign media's ability to act", he said.

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