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Russian Regulator Plans More Protocols Against RFE/RL For Violating Labeling Requirement

Court bailiffs visited the offices of RFE/RL's Moscow bureau and Current Time on May 25, photographing computers and other editorial equipment they've threatened to seize over unpaid fines imposed under the "foreign agents" law.

Russia's media regulator has notified RFE/RL that it plans to draft another set of 130 protocols for violations of the country's controversial "foreign agent" law requiring the labeling of content.

The violations covered under the Roskomnadzor summons on June 2 total 71.5 million rubles, or about $980,000.

The charges will be drafted and issued between June 15 and July 6 and sent to court for adjudication.

Roskomnadzor has already accused RFE/RL of some 520 violations of labeling rules under the "foreign agents" law. The additional 130 violations will bring the total to 650, and once all are adjudicated by Russian courts, they are expected to result in fines of $3.4 million.

RFE/RL has called the fines "a state-sponsored campaign of coercion and intimidation," while the U.S. State Department has described them as "intolerable."

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement on June 2 that Russia was attempting to fine RFE/RL's Moscow bureau out of existence.

"This concerted pressure on RFE/RL and other independent media in Russia is only hurting the Russian people by depriving them of information choice," Fly said. "We will redouble our efforts to provide objective news and information to our audiences across Russia despite these outrageous attacks on our operations."

The "foreign agents" law requires that each published or broadcast story include prominent labeling. RFE/RL is in the process of appealing the protocols, but Russian courts have so far rejected hundreds of appeals.

The total amount of fines RFE/RL already faces under Russian court orders is more than 80 million rubles -- just over $1 million.

The "foreign agents" law is increasingly being used against Russian-language media outlets in the country, including RFE/RL. The European Union has called on Moscow to repeal the law.

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