European Union condemns Russian 'foreign agent' media law as 'threat'

Posted November 28, 2017

The rivalry between Russia and the US continues to deepen as the USA alleges that Russian efforts swayed the election while Russia claims infringement of free speech.

The amendments on foreign media went into effect after President Vladimir Putin signed off on them on Saturday, allowing Russian authorities to label outlets as "foreign agents" for receiving funding from overseas.

Voice of America and the Russia-based outlets run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, all of which are funded by the USA government, will likely be the first US organizations to face the designation, as Russian lawmakers had already been threatening to do following the RT news.

The Russian law classing global media organisations operating in the country as "foreign agents" is a "threat to free and independent media", the European Union said on Sunday.

Reports say the bill by Putin came into effect after the upper chamber of the Russian parliament adopted it Wednesday.

Within hours after the bill passed the State Duma, the Justice Ministry sent warnings to several Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) news services.

RFE/RL was among several media outlets that Russian officials warned could be labeled a foreign agent, a list that also included the Voice of America (VOA), CNN, and Germany's global broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. It's yet not clear if Russian Federation will target traditional USA news organizations as well.

"The "foreign agent" legislation goes against Russia's human rights obligations and commitments, and the extension of its scope to foreign media..." On November 13, the Russian state-funded television channel RT registered in the United States under a decades-old law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

USA intelligence officials have accused the Kremlin of using Russian media sources to interfere in the presidential election.

"RT and Sputnik distribute freely in the US, whereas RFE/RL has lost its broadcast affiliates in Russian Federation due to administrative pressures, and has no access to cable", it said.