Russian lawmakers move forward with legislation that would target individual bloggers as ‘foreign agent’ mass media outlets

13:31, 12 january 2018

The State Duma has passed a first reading of legislation that would allow the government to label individual people “foreign agent” mass media outlets. The draft law passed with the support of 333 deputies, one vote against, and one abstention.

Addressing fellow lawmakers, Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy (who co-sponsored the bill) stated that foreign agents are required to mark their content as the work of a foreign agent, including when sharing materials online and on social media. Tolstoy has argued that all media outlets and even ordinary people should have to notify readers whenever citing or disseminating the work of a foreign agent. Tolstoy has dismissed concerns about censorship, saying that Russia’s laws on foreign agents only regulate the presentation of information and not its actual content.

The first reading of the draft law would make it possible for the Justice Ministry to add any individual to Russia’s registry of foreign agents. Tolstoy says the law would be applicable to bloggers who accept any foreign money.