Vladimir Putin Signs Bill Targeting International Media Outlets

Herbert Rhodes
November 28, 2017

The Justice Department pressured RT two weeks ago into registering as a foreign agent - or face the prospect of prosecution and closure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Saturday new measures designating worldwide media outlets as foreign agents.

Putin signed the bill into law Saturday after the upper chamber of the Russian parliament adopted it Wednesday.

The worldwide rights organization Amnesty global has said the legislation would deal a "serious blow" to media freedom in Russia, although Russian officials have said it would not apply to domestic media. Russia's new and retaliatory law went quickly into effect and can be reviewed in its entirety on Russia's legislative database. The rivalry between Russia and the US continues to deepen as the USA alleges that Russian efforts swayed the election while Russia claims infringement of free speech.

The move was seen as retaliation for a similar measure taken by the Justice Department against Russia's state-funded RT television. It's yet not clear if Russian Federation will target traditional USA news organizations as well.

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The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were among those on the list.

RFE/RL was among several media outlets that Russian officials warned could be labeled a foreign agent, a list that also included the Voice of America (VOA), CNN, and Germany's global broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

Putin's spokesman says the US hampers the Russian news outlets' operation in violation of media freedom, "actions on the basis of the principle of reciprocity can't be excluded".

RT's influence in America has come under closer scrutiny following Russia's attempts to interfere in last year's US presidential election, particularly since the USA intelligence community highlighted the network's role in that interference last January.

Visiting the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL and VOA on November 17, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said that the Russian legislation was a "big concern" for the United States and that "the principles of free media in any free society and democracy are absolutely critical for strength and well-being".

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