OSCE to United States and Russia: Stop designating media as agents


The loosely phrased Russian bill says that any government- or private-funded foreign news outlets could be declared foreign agents, leaving it to the Justice Ministry to single them out.

"I call on both the Unites States and the Russian Federation to reconsider and refrain from requiring media entities to register as "foreign agents" and not take further steps", Desir said, adding that he "stood ready to offer his assistance to help both participating States, the Unites States of America and the Russian Federation, to solve this situation in line with their media freedom commitments".

After being passed by the Senate, expected this month, the "foreign agent" amendments to an existing media law would enter force immediately on being signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Media outlets named foreign agents will have to publicly declare themselves as such and regularly provide detailed information about their funding, finances and staffing — the same stringent requirements that have been previously applied to foreign-funded Russian NGOs, which prompted some to shut down.

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Worldwide media sees the vote as retaliation by Russia [Guardian report] against the US Department of Justice's [official website] requirement that RT, a Russian media outlet formerly known as Russia Today, register [press release] under the Foreign Agent Registration Act [text, PDF; regulations, PDF] as an agent for the Russian government.

VOA Director Amanda Bennett said "VOA can not comment on and will not speculate on any proposed actions by any other entities".

RT's editor-in-chief has offered her condolences to all journalists caught up in "Washington's political games" following the recent foreign-agent bill approved by Russian MPs in a "mirror response" to USA measures. "These media outlets are not covered by the federal law".

Washington considers RT a propaganda arm of the Kremlin and told it to register its American operation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act aimed at lobbyists and lawyers representing foreign political interests.