Russian MPs ban US media from parliament

Russia labels Voice of America and Radio Free Europe as 'foreign agents'

Russian Federation has denounced the move as a violation of media freedom and passed a new law allowing the government to designate any worldwide media outlet as foreign agents.

The ministry said that US-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and seven of their media affiliates had been recognised as "carrying out the functions of a foreign agent", in a statement posted on its website.

A bill extending that law to media organisations sailed through both houses before President Vladimir Putin signed it last month.

The move is in retaliation for the United States justice department ordering the Russian channels RT and Sputnik to register as foreign agents there.

The legislation has been condemned by rights groups including Reporters Without Borders, which called the legislation an "eye-for-eye response" that would seriously damage media freedoms.

Voice of America and Radio Free Europe were created during the cold war to broadcast news to the closed societies of the Soviet Union and the communist countries in its orbit.

On Tuesday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty quoted its president, Thomas Kent, as saying he had received no details about what the foreign agent designation will mean.

"So far we have no concrete information on these restrictions", the head of the US Congress-funded corporation said. "We remain committed to accurate and comprehensive journalism", Kent said.

The potential restrictions that the USA broadcasters could now face are still unknown, but lawmakers said any media labeled "foreign agent" will be required to submit detailed financial-reporting, as well as label all published content as created by a foreign agent, RFE/RL reports.

They can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make sure they comply with the rules, according to the 2012 law, which has forced some NGOs to close.

Russia's move comes after the U.S. withdrew congressional press credentials from the Russian-funded RT news network.

"In the defence of democratic values, deputies of the State Duma reserve the right to take symmetrical measures in connection with the decision to strip a number of Russian journalists of their accreditation to the U.S. congress", Russian news agencies cited the decision as saying.

No access to Duma for "foreign agents"?

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