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Russian Lawmakers Consider Move Labeling Journalists 'Foreign Agents' If Employer Has Designation

Lawmaker Leonid Levin
Lawmaker Leonid Levin

Russian lawmakers are considering a proposal that would designate reporters who work for organizations officially listed as foreign agents as foreign agents themselves.

Lawmaker Leonid Levin told journalists in Moscow on November 13 that individuals working for media outlets officially labeled as foreign agents would be similarly labeled if their journalistic activities are linked to making and distributing materials about the social and political situation in Russia.

Levin's comments came after a parliamentary committee recommended the lower chamber, the State Duma, approve in the second reading a bill on the additional regulation of foreign media companies listed as foreign agents.

The bill says that individuals may be listed as foreign agents if they collaborate with foreign media organizations and receive financial support from them.

Russia passed the foreign-agent law -- which requires all NGOs receiving foreign funding to register -- in 2012 following the biggest wave of anti-government protests since Russian President Vladimir Putin came to power. Putin blamed Western influence and money for those protests.

In 2017, Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based watchdog group, called the law "devastating" for local NGOs, saying more than a dozen had been forced to close their doors.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax