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

Posted November 28, 2017

Russian President Vladmir Putin has signed a law that will declare all foreign media as foreign agents.

According to reports, Russia's Justice Ministry last week warned US 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 Russian law classing global media organisations operating in the country as "foreign agents" is a "threat to free and independent media", the European Union said on Sunday.

File Picture: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. The broadcaster said it would challenge the requirement in court.

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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.

"Choosing between a criminal case and registration, we have chosen the latter", the outlet's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement at the time.

Without even waiting for the law to come into effect, 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.

"Congratulations to American freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it".

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The Russian Justice Ministry last week published a list of nine US -backed news outlets that it said could be affected by the changes.

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.

According to the USA intelligence community, RT's American channel is staffed, supervised, and financed by the Kremlin, and "has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged United States shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties" in an effort to influence Americans.

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