The Kremlin's Latest Crackdown on Independent Media

Russia's New Foreign Agent Law in Context

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) heads of state in Minsk, Belarus, November 2017.  Vasily Fedosenko / REUTERS

On November 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law legislation allowing the Russian government to designate media organizations that receive funding from abroad as “foreign agents.” Russia’s Justice Ministry, the agency tasked with identifying the specific media outlets to be targeted, has already notified Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), both funded by the U.S. government, that they must register as foreign agents. The new law, however, is not limited to government-funded media: any organization receiving foreign funding or based outside of Russia could fall under the “foreign agent” classification. The New York Times, CNN, and European outlets could be targeted in the near future. The law also grants the Russian authorities an expansive mandate to block online content, including social media websites, whose activities are deemed “undesirable” or “extremist.”

Russia has framed the law as reciprocal retaliation for the U.S. Department

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