Russia’s federal media watchdog and state censor, Roskomnadzor, has written up eight protocols for violations of the rules for labeling information disseminated by “foreign-agent media.” This was announced on the agency’s website on Tuesday, January 12.
The protocols, drawn up under article 19.34.1 of the Russian Administrative Code, concern four different websites that failed to label content appropriately. These complaints will go to court for a decision on fines in the coming days.
Article 19.34.1 stipulates 50,000-ruble fines for government officials (approximately $675) and 500,000-ruble fines for legal entities (approximately $6,760).
Roskomnadzor didn’t specify which media outlets are facing fines. However, on December 30, 2020, Interfax reported that the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast corporation (RFE/RL) had received warnings about being written up for failing to comply with labeling requirements for “foreign-agent media.”
Mass media outlets recognized as “foreign agents” in Russia are expected to indicate this status in their publications. According to Roskomnadzor, this rule “is intended to inform the Russian reader that the materials distributed by these media outlets pursue the interests of other states.”
Currently, the Russian Justice Ministry’s registry of “foreign-agent media” includes 17 outlets. Among them are the Czech news agency Medium-Orient, as well as RFE/RL and a number of its affiliates, and Voice of America (all of which are funded by U.S. Congress).
At the end of December, the Russian Justice Ministry added five individuals to its “foreign-agent media” registry for the first time ever: human rights defender Lev Ponomarev, Radio Svoboda journalists Lyudmila Savitskaya and Sergey Markelov, Pskovskaya Gubernia editor-in-chief Denis Kamalyagin, and St. Petersburg artist and activist Dariya Apakhonchich. The law allowing for this was adopted a year earlier.