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Russia's Bill Retaliating Against Foreign Media Passes Unanimously

15 November 2017

The law could be used against US media such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which receive funding from the US Congress.

Its passing follows RT registering with the US Justice Department following claims from US intelligence agencies that the television channel served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

The law, which is focused on media, is considerably broader than the USA legislation, which only targets state-funded organizations.

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

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed in the third and final reading a law on designating media outlets as foreign agents if they receive funding from overseas. "We think it is completely unacceptable if German and European media are - as a effect of a Russian-American controversy - to be subjected to restrictions which. go against worldwide obligations that we took together".

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.

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"In this connection, we have agreed that we will take steps to mirror those actions in accordance with a law that would make it possible to recognize foreign media outlets as foreign agents", the State Duma speaker said, adding that there had been no such law in Russian Federation before, but it existed in the United States.

"We are making it possible.to take selective retaliatory measures - that is the idea of the law, and I hope it will be enforced this way". Foreign media that do not register when requested can lose the right to work in Russian Federation.

Under the 2012 law, foreign agents have to apply for inclusion in a government register, and submit regular reports on their sources of funding, their objectives, how they spend their money and who their managers are.

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The law could require designated media outlets to disclose where they get their funding and how they spend it, though the bill does not specify on what basis foreign media would be compelled to register.

RT has said it is only a media organization which presents news from a Russian point of view.

Many NGOs have closed in response to the legislation.

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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.

Russia's Bill Retaliating Against Foreign Media Passes Unanimously