Russia poised to force journalists to register as foreign agents

Moscow –   Russia’s lower house of parliament on Friday approved a bill to enable authorities to force journalists to register individually as a “foreign agent.”

The legislation would better position Russia for responding to pressure on Russian media abroad, Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoi said in comments published on the legislature’s website.

In December 2017, Russia imposed restrictions on U.S. state-funded news outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, calling each of them “foreign agent,” after the U.S. imposed similar measures on Russian state-funded broadcaster RT.

U.S. officials have alleged that Russia Today (RT), used its English-language service to influence the 2016 presidential election in favour of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who had expressed intentions to rebuild the countries’ frayed relations.

This week, Russia threatened retaliation against Moldova over recently passed legislation that could be used to clamp down on Russian media influence in that former Soviet republic.

Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, has long been politically torn between integration with the European Union and loyalties to its former Soviet ruler, Moscow.

“The Moldovan law represents “explicit discrimination against Russian media,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS. (dpa/NAN)