Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an anti-foreign media law after the Trump administration forced a Russian-owned media outlet to register as a “foreign agent.”
Putin authorized the law in direct response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s insistence earlier this month that RT America register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which requires the outlet to fork over sensitive financial information.
The law was fast-tracked through parliament during the past two weeks, and allows Moscow to force foreign media to brand their news content as the work of “foreign agents.” It also forces news platforms like Reuters to provide the Russian government with funding sources.
U.S. intelligence officials have accused the Kremlin of using Russian media sources to interfere in the presidential election. The U.S. government has since required RT to register a U.S.-based affiliate company as a “foreign agent.”
Putin and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied meddling in the election, and claim the DOJ’s pressure on Russian broadcasters is an attack on free speech. RT will comply with the demand to avoid further legal action, the outlet’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan told reporters earlier this month.
“Between a criminal case and registration, we chose the latter. We congratulate American freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it,” Simonyan said Monday on Twitter shortly after the DOJ applied pressure.
The Russian Justice Ministry published on the government’s website a list of U.S. outlets that could be affected by the laws.
Russia’s anti-media law is not the first time this month the country has painted groups as so-called foreign agents. Moscow used anti-spying spying legislation earlier this month to justify roping environmental groups under a similar designation.
Nearly 30 environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being forced to submit waves of reports to the government or face fines for noncompliance, according to a Nov. 22 report from Human Rights Watch.
Only four of the 29 groups are still active, while those remaining are unreachable or unwilling to comment.
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