‘Foreign agent’ media law in Russia: A threat to free speech?

As far as it is known, these requirements do not interfere with the broadcast or issuance of any of the media channels 

‘Foreign agent’ media law in Russia: A threat to free speech?  

In Russia, a new law for foreign media is causing a stir in the world. It is an amendment that requires international media companies to register in the country and undergo a series of regulatory processes to continue on air. The law, approved by the Council of the Russian Federation with 154 votes in favor and none against, has already been qualified by the European Union as a threat to press freedom.

Federica Mogherini, high ranking representative member of the European Union, recently warned that the obligation imposed by Russia to international media under the 'foreign agent' law poses a threat to freedom of speech and press around the world. However, the new Russian law responds symmetrically to previous restrictions imposed by the United States, country that forced the Russian media channel RT, to sign in as a 'foreign agent', giving it a seemingly short time to do so.

What is the law about?

The 'foreign agents' media law is a registration requirement that is demanded exclusively to media or news agencies that are financed or belong to foreign countries, but operate within Russia. This legislation, which includes several amendments about security of information and communication, requires the company to sign all of its audiovisual, printed, or digital material in order to be identified as material created by a foreign nation. In addition, the media will have to submit regular reports about its financial activities and those of its executives.

As far as it is known, these requirements do not interfere with the broadcast or issuance of any of the media channels and it will be the Ministry of Justice of Russia decision to determine which media will be required to latch on the 'foreign agents' law; regulation that, according to the head of the Constitutional Committee of the Council of Russian Federation, Andréi Klishás, "is not comparable with the one that has been imposed in the USA where there is even criminal responsibility in case of a refusal to register".

Not long ago, during the first days of November, Russian President Vladimir Putin, described the blockage imposed by Washington on the Russian channel RT as an attack on free speech and ratified that his response to the US would be "adequate and symmetrical [...] All media has the right to express their point of view, we can discuss with them, but not by closing or building conditions that prevent their journalistic activities”, said the Russian leader, emphasizing that the US prefers to close a media channel that disagrees with their positions, instead of "presenting their own point of view".

 

 

Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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