Russia Hits Back Over TV Station Squeeze With Media Law

Moscow — Russia will expand controversial legislation on "foreign agents" for use against all media that receive funding from abroad, with the first outlets likely to be hit this month in retaliation over US actions against Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT.

Media that fail to comply with demands to register as "foreign agents" under the law will be banned from working in Russia, Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said on Tuesday, according to the Russian-based Interfax news service.

"Today the myth of free speech in the US has fallen and, along with it, the basis for allowing the mouthpieces of American propaganda in Russia to live comfortably," Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the international affairs committee of the upper house of parliament, told reporters in Moscow.

Legislation will be ready in time for the Russian justice ministry to make the first designations against foreign media by the end of November, he said.

Moving quickly

Russia is moving quickly to clamp down on media from abroad after RT confirmed on Monday it had complied with a US justice department demand to register as a foreign agent under US law.

The Russian law is based on one used to restrict nongovernmental organisations, which imposes tight scrutiny by officials and requires them to place the words "foreign agent" on publications, a label that recalls Soviet-era denunciations of spies and fifth-columnists.

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