Russia's Bill Retaliating Against Foreign Media Passes Unanimously

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

The third reading is seen as a formality, after which the amendments will have to be passed by the Senate and then be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

State Duma's decision came in response to the recent requirement from the US Department of Justice to register RT America TV channel, the American branch of the Russian television company, as a foreign agent.

Russian lawmakers on Wednesday amended two laws that could require foreign news outlets to disclose status, report their activities and be subjected to financial inspections.

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The measures were introduced in response to a move by the U.S. Department of Justice to force RT America, linked to the Kremlin-backed RT, to register as a "foreign agent" after U.S. intelligence officials accused Russian Federation of seeking to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The motion, prepared by the State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and heads of all four parliamentary parties was passed by a unanimous vote.

The media outlets singled out as foreign agents will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations under a 2012 law. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to say how tough the law would be because the draft did not spell out how it would be applied in practice.

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Once registered, they will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations.

The law, passed after massive anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow, 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 nearly any non-governmental organisation. Any information they publish has to include a mention that the source of the information is a "foreign agent", according to the legislation.

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Amnesty International criticised the new bill as an attack on media freedom.

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