Damir Gainutdinov: Russia’s new foreign agent legislation will further silence independent media [OpenDemocracy]

posted 26 Nov 2017, 23:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Nov 2017, 00:01 ]
24 November 2017

By Damir Gainutdinov

New legislation targeting foreign media operating in Russia has evoked parallels with the US. Here’s why they’re wrong.

On 22 November, Russia’s Federation Council approved new legislation designed to assign “foreign agent” status to foreign media organisations. Previously voted through by the Russian parliament, this new “foreign agents” law was received 154 votes, with one abstention. There’s no doubt that Vladimir Putin will soon sign the document into law. The question now is: how will this legislation, which was clearly written in a rush, be applied?

Forgetting for a moment the anti-constitutional nature of this legislation, you need to understand that its language completely destroys Russia’s whole system of media law. Article 1 of Russia’s current Law on Means of Mass Communication notes that a “media” is a form of periodically distributing information. The latest amendments introduce a new term (“foreign media”), though there’s no discussion of whether this refers to an organisation or “structure”, and there’s no further mention of the “periodical” element. For example, you want to sell your bike, so you put an ad up on eBay. You receive money from a distant relative in Uzbekistan, and that’s it — welcome to the black list. This lack of clarity on fundamental terms will destroy Russian media law. This couldn’t happen in a normal legislative environment. (That said, who are we kidding.) [Read more]