11 Dec 2021 6:08 pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed discussing the law on foreign media representatives with journalists. He pointed out that the document had not been discussed with the professional community. According to Putin, the law should not allow outside interference in this area.
Vladimir Putin believes that the law on foreign media representatives should be discussed with the journalists’ profession. This is what he said at a meeting of the Russian Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Development:
“The document has not been discussed with the professional community. This not only needs to be pointed out, it needs to be done.”
In his opinion, this law is intended to prevent outside interference. It is designed to protect the country from anyone within Russia using tools to achieve goals that have nothing to do with Russia’s interests. The Russian head of state stated:
“You know how our media is treated abroad, don’t you? They are declared foreign agents – they are summoned to court, interrogated and threatened with imprisonment if they fail to show up.
We need to guarantee the freedom of expression and, to a certain extent, the immunity of those who draw attention to the shortcomings in our society, the inadequacies of the state system and the issues raised during the election campaign. “
Putin added that the media must be used carefully. These absolutely necessary instruments should not be weakened or blunted, as they should be used for the development of the country. He explained:
“Here, of course, we have to be very subtle about it. Let’s get back to that, work with the professionals and come up with amicable solutions as much as possible.”
In November the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights submitted to the State Duma amendments to the “foreign agents” laws. It was proposed to allow “foreign agents” not to have to mark their private publications with this addition. They should also be given time to rectify violations, and international awards and honors should not be seen as grounds for inclusion in the “Foreign Agents” register.
On the afternoon of December 9, before Putin’s meeting with members of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Development, MPs from the State Duma New People Party presented a bill to amend the law on “Foreign Agents”. In particular, it was proposed that a legal or natural person be recognized as a “foreign representative” on the basis of a court order. It was also proposed to shorten the list of political activities and to exclude the provision on the dissemination of opinions on the decisions made and the policies pursued by public authorities.
This is the second time that the subject of “foreign agents” has been raised at the President’s annual meeting with the Human Rights Council. In 2020 Council Chairman Valery Fadeev noted in his report that the term “foreign agent” was interpreted very broadly. He proposed revising the law to eliminate possible discrimination. Putin countered that the status of “foreign agent” did not result in prohibitive measures on the part of the state, citing the implementation of this rule in the United States as an example. The Russian President said:
“I can’t imagine foreign agents showing up in the US asking to be on the State Department’s public committee.”
The law on so-called “foreign media agents” was passed in Russia in 2019. The document was signed by President Vladimir Putin. According to the law, a natural person or media company that distributes or participates in the creation of material from foreign media companies and receives money or property from abroad or from Russian legal entities with foreign funding may be called a “foreign agent”.
After receiving “foreign agent” status, Russian media are required to label their materials with special labeling. Failure to identify them will result in a fine. In addition to labeling, foreign media representatives must also submit regular reports to the Ministry of Justice on their activities and the use of funds received from abroad. As of December 9th, 103 media companies and individuals operating as “Foreign Agents” are listed in the Russian “Register of Foreign Agents”.
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