Russian Lawmakers Pass Law Allowing Crackdown on Foreign Media

  • Bill awaits Putin’s signature, U.S. media outlets targeted
  • Russia says measure is reaction to U.S. actions against RT

A plenary meeting at the Upper House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow.

Photographer: Stanislav Krasilnikov/Getty Images

Russian senators gave final approval to legislation rushed through parliament that allows authorities to crack down on foreign media in retaliation for U.S. actions against Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT.

The vote on Wednesday by the Federation Council , or upper house of parliament, means the law allowing media outlets to be branded “foreign agents” now awaits signature by President Vladimir Putin. The lower house of parliament passed the legislation last week.

The Justice Ministry has warned two U.S. state-funded media outlets, Voice of America and Radio Liberty, that they may be declared “foreign agents” under the law, which is based on one already used to impose tight restrictions on non-government organizations that receive financing from abroad.

Ties between Washington and Moscow have continued to worsen amid investigations into alleged Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election and frictions over Ukraine and Syria, even as U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to improve relations after taking office in January. A U.S. decision to compel RT to register as a foreign agent, which requires disclosure of an organization’s funding from abroad, has ratcheted up tensions further.

RT denies assertions by U.S. intelligence agencies that it acted as a propaganda arm of the Russian government as part of an effort to help Trump get elected.

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