Putin signs law targeting journalists as foreign agents

Move described as scare tactic to stifle criticism of Russian government

Photo: EPA Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed on 2 December the bill that allows the Kremlin to label journalists and bloggers, but also ordinary individuals, as “foreign agents“, if they receive financial or other material support from foreign media organisations.

Under the vaguely worded law, Russians and foreigners who work with media or distribute their content and receive money from abroad would be declared foreign agents, potentially exposing journalists, their sources, or even those who share material on social networks to foreign agent status.

The Kremlin passed the original foreign agent law in 2012, following the largest anti-government protests since Putin came to power. Moscow claims the law is a response to a decision by the US government to require Russia’s state-funded channel RT, to register its US operating unit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. 

But the expansion of the definition of foreign agent to include private individuals now raises fresh concerns about the ability of independent journalists and bloggers to operate in the country. Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, had hence called for the initiative to be dropped as it was being approved by lawmakers.

Similar articles

  • Paris summit seeks solution for Ukraine war

    Paris summit seeks solution for Ukraine war

    A long-awaited summit in Paris on Monday is aiming to find a way to end the war in Ukraine, after five years and 14,000 lives lost in a conflict that has emboldened the Kremlin and reshaped European geopolitics. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are holding a series of meetings at the Elysee Palace to try to revive a 2015 peace deal that’s gone largely ignored, as Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists continue to exchange fire across World War I-style trenches along the front line slicing through eastern Ukraine.

    5
  • US, EU express solidarity with protesters in Georgia

    US, EU express solidarity with protesters in Georgia

    The United States and European Union expressed solidarity on Monday with Georgia’s anti-government protesters who took to the streets after the ruling party backtracked on promises of electoral reforms, news wires reported. In the biggest anti-government protest in years, more than 20,000 demonstrators rallied on Sunday outside the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi urging the government to resign and calling for new legislative elections.

    86