Moscow's foreign agent law bites back at United States crackdown on Russian media

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The Russian State Duma voted 414-0 on Wednesday to pass legislation allowing authorities to force any foreign media organization to register as a "foreign agent" under penalty of fines or a possible ban on operations in Russia.

Russian legislators have unanimously approved a bill allowing the government to register worldwide media outlets as foreign agents.

Once registered, they will face requirements now applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations.

RT is accused of being part of Russia's alleged meddling in the United States election.

Russian Federation has denied it interfered in last year's USA presidential election. President Vladimir Putin accused the US of instigating them.

The screen shows the results of vote on the amendments to the Russia's Law on Media in the 3rd (final) reading during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma on November 15.

The broadly phrased bill will leave it to the Russian government to determine which media outlets would be designated as foreign agents, said Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma committee for information.

"I would like to hope that it will only be used once and there will be no need for more retaliatory action", he added.

Under the amendments to the law, which were adopted this year, political activity is linked to such fields as state-building, securing Russia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, enforcement of law, order and security, national defense, foreign policy, political system integrity, social and economic and national development of the country, regulation of rights and freedoms of man and citizen.

A Russian law adopted in 2012 forces NGOs that have global funding and whose activities are deemed "political" to undergo intensive checks and label themselves as "foreign agents" on paperwork and statements.

Companies will be forced to declare their finances, funding and staffing if the rules are implemented. Critics of the law have said the definition of political activity is so loose that it could be used against nearly any nongovernmental organization.

Amnesty International criticised the new bill as an attack on media freedom.