RFE/RL and VoA named foreign agents in Russia
Russia’s Justice Ministry announced in early December that it has designated nine U.S. government-funded media outlets as “foreign agents,” under a newly expanded law, according to media reports. The Justice Ministry named Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and seven of its affiliates as “foreign agents”, as well as Voice of America. Under the law, media outlets could be required to disclose to Russian authorities the details of their funding, editorial policy and management.
The new legal requirements expand the 2012 law, which forced non-governmental organizations engaging in “political activity” to register with the Justice Ministry as “foreign agents” and to file a report to officials every quarter.
“It is reprehensible that Russia, which restricts its own independent, critical media, is now taking action to obstruct the work of international outlets that provide a vital alternative news source to Russian citizens,” said Committe to Protect Journalists Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “We call on the Justice Ministry to immediately reverse its anti-press action and to allow a free flow of news in the country.”The Justice Ministry’s announcement comes a month after the Russian government-funded international news network RT said that it had complied with a U.S. Department of Justice order to register under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). CPJ described the U.S. action on FARA last month as “ill-advised.”
Countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free are mostly conflict environments, where powerful actors use violent means to control media coverage, while weak-to-nonexistent law and order increases the likelihood of attacks.