Putin signs law against media discrimination — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union


Bill allows Attorney General to ban foreign media in response to restrictions on Russian media abroad

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a bill subjecting countries that restrict or ban Russian media to retaliation.

According to the law, « if a ban (restriction) is imposed on the activity of a Russian mass media on the territory of a foreign state », the Attorney General and deputies may apply similar measures to media of that country operating in Russia, resulting in « termination of the accreditation of correspondents », revocation of registration or licenses and closure of offices.

The ban could be lifted « only after the elimination of the circumstances which served as a basis for its adoption », indicates the document.

The new law also allows the Attorney General and deputies to deregister or terminate the broadcast license of any media under certain circumstances.

These include spreading false information, discrediting the activities of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as showing gross disrespect « for society, state and official symbols of the Russian Federation. »

Broadcast of « information containing calls for the organization and (or) participation in unauthorized public events », as well as calls to impose sanctions on Russia and its citizens, could also lead to a suspension and potentially a ban.

Previously, only the courts had the power to revoke media registrations or licenses.

In the event of a first violation, the Attorney General or his deputy would submit a request to the media regulator, Roskomnadzor, to suspend the media’s activities for up to three months. In the event of a recurrence, a similar order could be issued for six months. With the repeated distribution of false information, the outlet’s registration would be revoked.

According to the bill, Roskomnadzor can lift the restriction if the media rectifies the situation within a specified period. The legislation comes in response to what Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described as « mediacid based on ethnicity and political beliefs. »

The Russian military operation in Ukraine, launched at the end of February, has further strained relations between Moscow and the West. In response to the operation, Western countries introduced bans and restrictions on certain media. As a result, RT and Sputnik – and even their accounts on some social media platforms – have been made inaccessible in the EU. Australia, Canada and the UK have followed suit.

Russia retaliated by blocking the websites of several Western state-run media, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

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