Rus­sians ad­vance for­eign-me­dia steps

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS -

MOSCOW — Rus­sian law­mak­ers submitted le­gal amend­ments Tues­day that would al­low the gov­ern­ment to regis­ter in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets as for­eign agents, a re­tal­ia­tory move to a de­mand the U.S. made to a Rus­sian TV chan­nel.

The amend­ments, which are set to be voted on today, came af­ter the Rus­sian state-funded RT reg­is­tered with the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment as a for­eign agent af­ter pres­sure from the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have al­leged that RT served as a tool for the Krem­lin to med­dle in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Rus­sia has de­nied any in­ter­fer­ence.

The amend­ments un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in Rus­sia were pro­posed by law­mak­ers in the State Duma, the lower house of the Rus­sian leg­is­la­ture. Deputy Speaker Py­otr Tol­stoy said the re­vi­sions would give the Jus­tice Min­istry au­thor­ity to regis­ter for­eign me­dia out­lets as for­eign agents.

Af­ter the reg­is­tra­tion, the news out­lets would be sub­ject to re­quire­ments that al­ready ap­ply to for­eign-funded non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion un­der a 2012 law on for­eign agents.

The law re­quests all groups that re­ceive for­eign fund­ing and en­gage in vaguely de­fined po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties to regis­ter as for­eign agents. Crit­ics of the law have said the def­i­ni­tion of po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is so loose that it could be used against al­most any non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The law was ap­proved af­ter a slew of anti-Krem­lin protests in Moscow in 2011-2012. Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin ac­cused the U.S. of in­sti­gat­ing them.

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