The Russian telecoms control service announced on December 29 that it had summoned media officials classified as “foreign agents”, with a view to sanctions for failure to comply with the strict obligations imposed by this controversial statute.
“Representatives of media agents from abroad have been summoned, reports for administrative violations will be drawn up against them,” said Roskomnadzor, the federal telecoms and media supervision service, in a statement, without specifying which companies were concerned. The Russian telecoms gendarme indicates that media “acting as agents from abroad” continue to broadcast “their content without the corresponding label”.
In Russia, organizations or individuals “foreign agents” must, according to a law of 2012, register with the authorities, fulfill tedious administrative obligations and clearly indicate this status in their publications. The media Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, financed by Washington, notably have this status in Russia. Roskomnadzor did not specify how many media were affected by the sanctions mentioned, noting, however, that they could go up to 500,000 rubles (5,500 euros).
The announcement comes as Russian MPs recently approved tougher legislation on people and organizations referred to as “foreign agents”. According to these amendments, an individual or group receiving material or financial support from abroad or from organizations already considered as “foreign agents” can now also be designated in this way, without a court ruling.
The day before, authorities had classified individuals under this term for the first time: three journalists, an artist and one of the country’s most respected human rights activists, Lev Ponomarev. Russia also affixed this status on Tuesday to a major women’s rights organization Nasiliyu.net.