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"Foreign Agents": Kremlin increases pressure on journalists


            
              Tuesday, 03. December 2019
              
                

            
              The Russian authorities will be able to monitor individual journalists and bloggers even more closely in the future. President Putin puts his signature under a corresponding law article. Human rights organizations are taking this step with great concern.
              In Russia, journalists and bloggers can now be classified as "foreign agents". President Vladimir Putin signed an amendment to the media law on Monday evening. According to the legal text published on the Government's website, the Department of Justice may now designate individuals working for appropriately classified media as "foreign agents". This can be monitored and sanctioned by tightened. The Russian parliament had approved this addition in November. It applies to those journalists whose media has previously been put on an appropriate list by the authorities. Since 2012, politically active organizations, wholly or partially financed from abroad, have been forced to register as "foreign agents" in Russia. Since 2017, the guidelines also apply to media companies. The new bill also extends the scheme to individuals. Human rights organizations expressed concern about the proposed legislation. Amnesty International recently described the law in a joint statement with Reporters Without Borders and other NGOs as "another step towards restricting free and independent media" in Russia. They warned of a "powerful instrument" that could be used to "silence opposition voices." The change could affect, for example, members of the state-owned US radio station Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, who are already known by the Ministry of Justice "foreign agents" have been recorded.

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