MOSCOW, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- An advisory body of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday criticized a bill on listing foreign media as "foreign agents" for its multiple shortcomings and proposed it be amended.
The State Duma, Russia's lower parliament house, on Wednesday approved a bill vesting the government with the power to label foreign-funded media outlets as "foreign agents," and sent it to the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, for endorsement.
The Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights criticized the draft law for contradicting numerous federal laws including laws on media and non-governmental organizations, and asked the Federation Council to send it back for revision.
The bill lacked "legal certainty" in determining "foreign agents" and introduced excessive restrictions, while the bill itself was passed with certain violations of the existing legislative procedure, the council said.
The bill was proposed in response to the latest situation of Russian media in the United States, where RT America was forced to register as a foreign agent, which is qualified by Moscow as an obstacle to Russian media activities and a step violating the freedom of speech.
The Russian Justice Ministry on Thursday confirmed that it had sent out letters to some U.S. government-sponsored foreign media outlets operating in Russia, notifying them of possible recognition of their identity as foreign agents.
Under Russian legislation, if a bill is rejected by the Federation Council, it is normally sent back to the Duma, which has to decide whether to withdraw it from further consideration or form a conciliation commission of the two parliament houses to amend the bill.
The Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights is a consultative body assisting the Russian president in the exercise of his responsibilities of a guarantor and protector of human rights and freedoms and drafting proposals in this area.