Russia's Putin signs bill targeting journalists and bloggers

Clay Curtis
December 4, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a invoice into law that offers the government the fair to register bloggers, journalists and social media customers as foreign agents.

Russian Federation can now designate independent journalists and bloggers as foreign agents after amending a controversial law.

Russian legislation passed in 2012 already gave authorities the power to brand media organisations and NGO's as foreign agents, a term that has Soviet-era overtones.

Expanding its ambit raises concern that it could be used to target critical voices.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, had called for the initiative to be dropped as it was being approved by lawmakers.

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Russian law also requires so-called foreign agents to submit regular reports on their funding, objectives, how they spend their money and who their managers are.

Russian Federation says it wants the law as a tit-for-tat mechanism if its journalists are defined as foreign agents in the West.

Putin's signing the legislation into law is just the latest in a series of moves by the Russian government to crackdown on internet freedoms in the country.

The invoice extends an existing law exciting foreign-funded media outlets.

Moscow claims the law is a response to a decision by the USA government to require Russia's state-funded channel RT, to register its U.S. operating unit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He had political operatives Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indicted for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938, previously a laxly enforced law.

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