UPDATE: Putin signs law requiring non-Russian media register as foreign agents

UPDATE 2 — 11/25, 1:55 p.m. EST: President Vladimir Putin signed legislation Saturday passed by the Russian parliament earlier this week that forces all non-domestic media register with the Kremlin as “foreign agents” —  effecting up to nine U.S.-based outlets.

Earlier in November, the U.S. government required state-funded news organization Russia Today to similarly register as an agent of a foreign entity. 


UPDATE — 11/15, 1:13 p.m. EST: Russia’s lower legislative body, comprised of 450 total members, approved a bill to amend current law and force foreign media outlets based in the country to denote their public material is that of “foreign agents”.

The law, which is expected to be passed by the end of next week, will also require such entities as Voice of America to register with the Kremlin and supply financial disclosure and business plan reports to the government on a regular basis.


In a retaliatory measure announced Friday, Russian lawmakers are examining the amendment of a law that would require non-domestic media register as “foreign agents,” specifically targeting U.S. outlets like CNN.

The move would compel foreign media operating in Russia to disclose sources of funding, financial statements and information on personnel.

According to Russian business daily Vedomosti, the Law on Information would be amended to classify all non-Russian media as foreign agents, labeled as “undesirable organizations.”

“Our law on foreign agents doesn’t apply to media but since they are taking such measures against our channels in the U.S., we should respond to these unfriendly acts.  Amendments to the legislation are expected to be submitted and approved next week,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Under current Russian code, the Law on Information empowers the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to block material from media organizations which are declared disseminators of objectionable content.

Among the foreign media organizations targeted besides CNN are Voice of America and Radio Liberty.

CNN is currently owned by parent-company Turner Broadcasting, under the Time Warner umbrella; Voice of America and Radio Liberty are funded entirely by U.S. tax dollars.

The move to reclassify non-domestic media as foreign agents come in the wake of the U.S. demanding Russia Today (RT) to register as such.

Declared a state-funded propaganda outlet, the Justice Department set a deadline of Nov. 13 for RT to register as a foreign agent, which the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, reluctantly announced compliance with on Monday.

“This demand is discriminative, it runs counter to the principles of democracy and the freedom of speech,” she said Thursday.

The DOJ’s decision came in the wake of investigations into now-documented Kremlin attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


Editor’s note: This article has been corrected as to CNN’s parent company.


[Reuters] [Moscow Times] [Bloomberg] [RT News] [AP] [Image courtesy Global Look Press via RT]