Putin signs crackdown on foreign-sponsored journalists

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed into law a bill allowing Moscow to label individual journalists or bloggers as “foreign agents.”

The new measure serves as an extension of a 2017 law that required media outlets that were funded abroad to register as a foreign agents, which was passed in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for Russia-funded channel RT America to do the same in America. 

“The new norms allow the Russian government to block websites of foreign agents or legal entities established by them in case the information published by foreign media outlets violates Russian regulations,” Russian state media site TASS wrote.

Outlets labeled as foreign agents need to fulfill financial reporting obligations to the Russian government or face large fines, according to NPR. Critics fear the measure will be used to silence outlets critical of the Russian government.

Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the law in a statement published in November.

“This legislative initiative will have a detrimental impact on the already restrictive environment for independent journalism in Russia and should be dropped,” the statement read.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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