Russia passes bill to restrict foreign media outlets

Russia passes bill to restrict foreign media outlets

A bill allows authorities to limit or prohibit activities of foreign outlets in Russia.

On Tuesday, the authorities in Moscow have approved the first stage of the bill, allowing them to provide a prompt symmetrical response to countries that restrict the activities of Russian media.

The State Duma, the lower house of the country's parliament, said in a statement that the legislation would give the prosecutor general the right to restrict or prohibit foreign state media outlets in Russia.

The power could be invoked in response to the foreign state's unfriendly actions against Russian media abroad, according to the statement. Foreign media correspondents could lose their accreditation as part of the measures.

The aim of providing a prompt symmetrical response to unfriendly actions against the Russian media would be achieved, the authors of the legislation said.

The bill also amends existing law by giving the prosecutor general s office the power to withdraw registration or terminate the broadcasting license of any media in certain circumstances.

These include the distribution of illegal, dangerous information, demonstration of clear disrespect for the society, state and constitution, and the dissemination of information that is aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, or in the introduction of political and economic sanctions against the Russian Federation by foreign states. A court has the power to withdraw media registration or revoke a license.

In response to the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, the West has imposed a number of hard-hitting sanctions on Moscow, including the imposition of bans and restrictions on certain media outlets. As a result of these measures, RT and Sputnik and even their accounts on some social media platforms are inaccessible in EU territory. Australia, Canada and the UK have followed suit. The US has a constitutional ban on overt censorship, but YouTube has blocked RT and Sputnik accounts.

Russia has blocked the websites of several Western state-owned outlets, such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Svoboda and Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. Moscow has revoked the visas and credentials of the CBC earlier this month, citing Canada's decision to ban RT's English and French broadcasts.