Russian Federation to register global media as 'foreign agents'

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Russia's State Duma (lower house of parliament) voted at its meeting on Wednesday for passing the amendments that would allow to designate media outlets as foreign agents, if they are funded from overseas, APA reported citing TASS.

A Russian law adopted in 2012 forces NGOs that have worldwide funding and whose activities are deemed "political" to undergo intensive checks and label themselves as "foreign agents" on paperwork and statements.

Before the law comes into force, it will have to be approved by the Council of the Federation and signed by the president.

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USA intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had described the United States demand of RT as an attack on freedom of speech and warned that Russia would retaliate. The law designating media outlets as foreign agents, passed by the State Duma on Wednesday, will allow Russia's authorities to immediately and symmetrically respond to the encroachment on the freedom of Russian media overseas, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The bill will pass to the upper house which is expected to quickly rubber-stamp it next week before it goes to Mr Putin.

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RT television, which is funded by the Kremlin to give a Russian point of view on global affairs, confirmed Monday it has registered as a foreign agent in the United States, meeting a deadline from the US Department of Justice.

The media outlets singled out as foreign agents will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations under a 2012 law.

Under the 2012 law, foreign agents have to apply for inclusion in a government register, and submit regular reports on their sources of funding, their objectives, how they spend their money and who their managers are.

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Companies will be forced to declare their finances, funding and staffing if the rules are implemented.

Critics of the law have said the definition of political activity is so loose that it could be used against nearly any non-governmental organisation.

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