Russian bill on foreign agent media to be toughened
MOSCOW, January 21 (RAPSI) - The bill on mass media foreign agents will be resubmitted to the State Duma after having some tougher restrictions added to it, one of the bill’s sponsors and United Russia member Yevgeny Fyodorov told RIA Novosti.
Chair of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy Alexei Mitrofanov said at a State Duma meeting on Tuesday that the bill’s sponsors were withdrawing it. The draft law was submitted to the Duma in November 2012 by Yevgeny Fyodorov, Anton Romanov and Magomed Selimkhanov, all United Russia members.
According to the bill submitted in November, media outlets that receive funding and property (over 50% of their own revenue) from foreign sources and cover politics must state clearly that they are “foreign agents.” The products and content of these media outlets must include a statement that they were created and distributed by a “foreign agent media outlet.”
“We are just making the phrasing of what is considered a foreign agent more stringent. Initially, the requirement was 50% of foreign funding. However, after the recent events in Ukraine – where the media in fact triggered a civil war of sorts, we decided to change the figure. In effect, there is a similar situation going on in Russia,” Fyodorov said.
He added that the bill would be submitted to the State Duma after another review by the government.
A federal law passed last November requires that all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving finance from abroad register as “foreign agents” or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (over $15,300). In February, 11 Russian NGOs, including Moscow Helsinki Group, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013, with the Justice Ministry claiming that the goal was to check that these organizations’ activities comply with the objectives of their charters and the Russian legislation. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia have been raided by prosecutors and other officials, according to some estimates.