Selective application Why is Dozhd labeled a ‘foreign agent,’ but not RT? Putin’s spokesman weighs in.
During his daily press briefing on August 25, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov fielded a number of questions about the enforcement of Russia’s “foreign agents” law. Pointing to the Russian Justice Ministry’s recent decision to designate the independent television channel Dozhd (TV Rain) as a “foreign agent” due to funding from the EU, Meduza’s correspondent asked Peskov why state-controlled publications that have also received foreign funding haven’t been blacklisted. Here’s what Peskov had to say.
Ekho Moskvy: Regarding the law on “foreign agents” and how it works. You probably saw that members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights spoke out on this topic. Has [their] position been conveyed to the president? Doesn’t the Kremlin think that some adjustments are needed with regard to this law? [...] How does the Kremlin assess the work of this law?
Dmitry Peskov: We do know that the Justice Ministry gave appropriate clarifications. We know that the heads of media outlets will appeal [to the Justice Ministry] for further clarifications. They’ve already declared their intention to do so. This is an absolutely normal and correct working process. And of course, if necessary, these questions will be raised at meetings with the president and so on. So this is the working process, it’s correct. And if in the course of communication with the Justice Ministry some such incomprehensible things appear, they will be clarified.
Meduza: The Justice Ministry said that it added Dozhd to the list of “foreign agents” for receiving 130,000 euros from the European Union. Yesterday, the television channel explained that these were partner materials within the framework of the project “Russia is Europe.” Moreover, Dozhd has been reporting these contracts on Roskomnadzor’s website for many years. There you can see that dozens of other media outlets, for example [the newspapers] Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, concluded similar agreements with the EU, and that the news agency TASS and Russia Today [RT] had foreign financing. This looks like a selective application of the “foreign agents” law, which for some reason only applies to independent and opposition media. Is that what you meant when you said that the Justice Ministry is simply “fulfilling the provisions of the law”?
Dmitry Peskov: No, I meant what I said. That the Justice Ministry is fulfilling the provisions of the law. But here — [and] perhaps I’m wrong — but in my opinion, the decision was made on the basis of more than one incident. In this case, I really advise you to address these questions to the Justice Ministry.
Meduza: That’s to say you don’t think this is a selective application of the law?
Dmitry Peskov: Well no, I don’t think this is a selective application of the law. There were substantial grounds for making these decisions. Therefore, if there are still misunderstandings, it’s really better to ask the Justice Ministry questions.
Translation by Eilish Hart