Russian lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill requiring mass-media outlets operating in the country but funded from abroad to register as foreign agents.
The motion was prepared by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and the heads of all four parliamentary caucuses. It was drafted as a suite of amendments to the bill, allowing for websites of banned or extremist organizations to be blocked without requiring approval from the courts.
The text of the amendment defines affected mass-media outlets as legal entities that are “registered in a foreign nation, or a foreign structure that operates without registering as a company, engaged in spreading printed, audio, audio-visual or any other content prepared for an unlimited group of people.”
The bill does not mention any particular companies or countries. It specifies that the final decision in classifying mass media outlets as foreign agents should be made by the Justice Ministry.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will resort to reciprocal measures in response to US steps against Russian media, which he called an “attack on freedom of speech.”
This comes after the US ordered Russia’s leading global TV network, RT America, to register as a foreign agent.
The US Department of Justice demanded that by Monday, the company that supplies all services for RT America in the US has to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The legislation was implemented in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda on US soil.