Russian deputies withdraw bill to label media firms as ‘foreign agents’


MOSCOW: A bill that would have branded Russian media outlets that receive more than 50 percent of their funding from abroad as “foreign agents” was withdrawn from consideration in the State Duma on Tuesday.

The bill’s authors said they had decided to reintroduce the legislation at a later date with a lower threshold for qualification as a foreign agent.

The decision to withdraw the legislation was made because of the current situation in Ukraine, where violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters entered their third day Tuesday. The law’s authors said the violence had been provoked by foreign-funded media.

“We are simply tightening the wording linked to ‘foreign agents.’ It put [the threshold at]50-percent foreign funding. We think this figure should be increased after the recent events in Ukraine where, in essence, the media has provoked a civil war,” said Yevgeny Fyodorov, one of the bill’s authors.

Ukraine has been gripped by anti-government protests since November when President Viktor Yanukovych backed off from closer economic ties with the EU in favor of greater cooperation with Russia.

The media legislation was introduced for the second time to the State Duma in November by members of the ruling United Russia party Fyodorov, Anton Romanov and Magomed Selimkhanov.

The draft law was first introduced in June 2012 shortly after a similar bill was passed introducing similar rules for non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding.

Fyodorov said the bill was withdrawn the first time in order to incorporate observations made by the government, according to Russian media reports. PNA


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