Monday 9 December 2019

Putin law labels journalists as 'foreign agents'

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP

Nataliya Vasilyeva

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law an amendment that could require bloggers and independent journalists to register as "foreign agents", a move that rights activists say poses a threat to journalism.

The legislation is the latest in a flurry of bills passed in Russia which aim to tighten government control over the media and internet.

The amendment, which was endorsed by the upper house of the Russian parliament last week, expands the status of "foreign agents" to private individuals such as bloggers and freelance journalists.

Individuals who collaborate with an entity designated as a foreign agent will now have to put the foreign agent label on what they publish in print and online. They must also register a legal entity with the Russian ministry of justice or face fines up to 500,000 rubles (€7,000) or up to two years in prison.

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Human Rights Watch condemned the amendment as "a further step to restrict free and independent media", adding "the law is so broad that anyone active on social media can be targeted". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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