New Law Could Allow Authorities To Label Russian Citizens ‘Foreign Agents’

January 5, 2018

Russian lawmakers are currently discussing the possibility of extending the law on ‘foreign agent’ media organisations to include Russian citizens.  The law currently concerns only legal entities who receive funding from abroad, however, once the new amendments pass through parliament, it will allow the authorities to go a step further and label individual citizens as ‘foreign agents’.

The Kremlin’s list of media organisations officially registered as foreign agents has grown significantly this year to encompass Voice of America and Radio Liberty, some of the country’s most popular opposition media outlets, and has drawn widespread international criticism.   The list was initially extended after the US government called on well-known Kremlin-sponsored troublemakers RT and Sputnik to register as ‘foreign agents’ in the United States.

Many have seen the disproportionate reaction of the Kremlin on this issue as a further attack on freedom of the press in Russia, which is already in dire condition, particularly for publications critical of Vladimir Putin.

The document currently being debated in parliament suggests that Russian citizens should be subject to the ‘foreign agents’ law if they own a media outlet or internet resource and receive receive money from abroad.

Amendments to the law are due to be passed in January 2018, just three months away from the Russian presidential elections.  If the bill is passed it will be yet another knock to individual rights in Russia.