Moscow promises tit-for-tat response to pressure on Russian media

RT television confirmed it has registered as a foreign agent in the United States meeting a deadline from the US Department of Justice

Russian Parliament passes law to introduce foreign agent status for media outlets

Moscow, Nov 15 Russian MPs today backed new legislation allowing foreign media outlets to be listed as "foreign agents" in a reciprocal response to USA pressure on Kremlin-backed TV channel RT.

The law could require designated media outlets to disclose where they get their funding and how they spend it, though the bill does not specify on what basis foreign media would be compelled to register.

Russian MPs on Wednesday backed new legislation that could force foreign media outlets to register as "foreign agents" in a reciprocal response to U.S. pressure on Kremlin-backed TV channel RT.

USA investigators are reportedly looking into whether Russian government-funded outlets such as RT and Sputnik were part of Russia's influence campaign aimed at the 2016 presidential election.

Moscow will continue to give tit-for-tat responses to pressure on Russian media active in other countries, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Wednesday.

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Russian Federation has denied it interfered in last year's United States presidential election.

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

On Wednesday, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was premature to discuss the perceived "harshness" of the law.

The broadly phrased bill will leave it to the Russian government to determine which media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, said Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma committee for information. The bill serves as an amendment to the 2012 law that forced NGOs to adopt a "foreign agent" label if they receive funding from overseas.

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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These media will have to declare full details of their funding, finances and staffing while all published materials, including on their websites and social media, must be marked as coming from a "foreign agent".

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

RT has said it is only a media organization which presents news from a Russian point of view.

"This legislation strikes a serious blow to what was already a fairly desperate situation for press freedom in Russian Federation".

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