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A Just Russia submits draft legislation that would require ‘foreign agent’ status to be handed down by court ruling

Lawmakers from the faction A Just Russia — For Truth submitted a bill to the State Duma that would amend Russia’s “foreign agent” legislation such that this status would only be handed down by a court ruling.

Faction leader Sergey Mironov announced the bill on Wednesday, November 17. In a post on Telegram, he recalled that currently, the Russian Justice Ministry can designate any media outlet as a “foreign agent” if it finds out that the publication receives funding from abroad. Mironov noted that journalists can be labeled as “foreign agents” over small money transfers, calling this “too harsh.”

“Let’s try this: if it turns out that a media outlet receives money from abroad, then the first time it will be enough to issue a warning from the Justice Ministry. If, after that, the funding doesn’t stop, then the Justice Ministry will have to go to court with a petition to recognize this media outlet as a foreign agent,” Mironov said, explaining the proposed changes. 

According to the lawmaker, the faction decided to develop a legislative initiative after the Justice Ministry blacklisted the publication Rosbalt as a “foreign agent.” Mironov told Meduza about these plans back in October, saying that A Just Russia — For Truth would consult with experts and then prepare amendments to the “foreign agents” law.

At the time of this writing, the bill has yet to be published on the list of draft legislation submitted to the State Duma. 

Russia’s “foreign agent” legislation must be repealed. Sign the petition today! 

The Russian Justice Ministry designated Rosbalt as a “foreign agent” on October 15. The publication’s website lists Nataliya Cherkesova as project manager — according to media reports, she is the ex-wife of former FSB Deputy Director Viktor Cherkesov. On Twitter, Rosbalt’s account is labeled as Russian “state-affiliated media.” 

The Justice Ministry’s registry of “foreign-agent media” includes 95 individuals and organizations. Of these, 77 were blacklisted as “foreign agents” between April and November 2021. 

This wave of designations has drawn criticism from human rights activists and the media. In late October, President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia’s “foreign agent” law would be improved. A number of media outlets, the Russian Union of Journalists, and the Presidential Human Rights Council have already drafted amendments to the legislation. 

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