Russia's Duma passes media bill amid "foreign agent" spat with U.S.

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-15 21:08:32|Editor: pengying
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MOSCOW, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, approved a bill on Wednesday vesting the government with the power to label foreign-funded media outlets as "foreign agents", after Washington had done so to Russian state television station RT America.

"The bill is an exceptional measure, which mirrors the U.S. legislation on foreign agents," said Leonid Levin, head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Technologies and Communication.

On Monday, RT America registered as a foreign agent in the United States at the demand of the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) enacted in 1938.

U.S. authorities accused Russian media outlets of influencing public opinion during the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news. But Moscow says that RT, along with other Russian media outlets, is being oppressed by the U.S. government.

The Russian bill, approved on its third and final reading by the Duma, will allow the Ministry of Justice to include media outlets in Russia on the list of foreign agents.

The bill will be sent to the Federation Council, the upper house, for endorsement later in the day, before it is signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin into law.

U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and its Current Time TV channel, Voice of America and CNN could be affected by the retaliatory measures, said Alexei Pushkov, head of the Federation Council Committee on Information Policy.

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."

According to Levin, the United States used its legislation against Russian journalists to "complicate as much as possible the conditions for their efficient work in the United States with the aim to restrict free competition on the media market."