Russia's ex-finance minister regrets adoption of foreign agent media law

Russian President Putin talks with Sudan’s President al Bashir in the Black Sea resort of Sochi

President Vladimir Putin signed the bill declaring media outlets "foreign agents".

Under the new law, any media outlet operating in Russian Federation and funded by a foreign state may be designated a foreign agent by the Justice Ministry.

The law labels media outlets as foreign agents if they receive funding from overseas. State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 USA general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton. The media outlets so designated will be subject to the same restrictions and responsibilities now applied to against NGOs, or non-government organizations.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied meddling in the election and said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech.

The Russian State Duma passed the bill on November 15.

Without even waiting for the law to come into effect, Russia's Justice Ministry last week warned USA government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, along with its regional outlets, that they could be designated as foreign agents under the new law.

FARA requires "persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities".

Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of RT, posted a statement on its website, saying, "Choosing between a criminal case and registration, we have chosen the latter".

The law has been rushed through both Russian parliaments in the past two weeks in response to what the Kremlin describes as unacceptable pressure on Russian media outlets in the United States.



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