Russian is ready to tag the Western media a ‘foreign agents’, the respective legislation is expected to be signed by Vladimir Putin. It will affect US government-funded Radio/Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of the America, as well as channel CNN, which funded from the private pockets.
The Russian authorities tighten their stranglehold on press freedom in the country today by introducing a bill that designates foreign-funded news organizations as “foreign agents” and imposes onerous obligations to declare full details of their funding, finances and staffing. Many international human rights organizations believe that the move is likely to affect the Russian services of major media outlets. How will giants like BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty operate under new Russian law? Will that be possible at all?
On Wednesday, the Russian Parliament’s lower chamber has expressed their support of the bill and is expected to pass it unanimously. Earlier, Russia has declared dozens of NGOs, including human rights and environmental organisations, foreign agents too.
Once the needed amendments are passed, the “foreign agents law” will apply to all foreign media working in Russia, as well as Russian-language news operating from abroad. In other words, the bill will allow the General Prosecutor’s Office to arbitrarily block access to websites of ambiguously defined ‘undesirable organizations’.
The critics of the new law say it will ‘squeeze the life’ from civil society and affect the press freedom in Russian Federation on the eve of the 2018 presidential elections. For an instance, Khodorkovsky’s organization Open Russia was blocked as an ‘undesirable’ too.