Russian Parliament’s Upper Chamber Approves ‘Foreign Agents’ Bill

The Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, has approved a bill giving authorities the power to label reporters who work for organizations officially listed as foreign agents as foreign agents themselves, reported RFE/RL.

The bill approved on November 25 says that individuals may be listed as foreign agents if they collaborate with foreign media organizations and receive financial or other material support from them.

The bill must still be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become a law.

Russia passed the original foreign agent law — which requires all NGOs receiving foreign funding to register — in 2012 following the biggest wave of anti-government protests since Vladimir Putin came to power. Putin blamed Western influence and money for those protests.

Critics of the law say it stigmatizes organizations with the designation and would do the same to journalists if they are labeled as foreign agents.

On November 15, Russia’s Justice Ministry listed RFE/RL’s Sever.Realii website as a “foreign agent” saying the decision was based on conclusions made by the parliamentary committee on an investigation into meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

“This law appears to be part of a dangerous, escalating effort to target RFE/RL journalists and other foreign media, and a further step toward ensuring that the Russian people only receive the information the Kremlin wants them to,” Fly said in his November 21 statement.

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