Russia draws up more restrictions for 'foreign agents'

·2-min read
Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting outside Moscow

(Reuters) - Russian lawmakers said on Thursday they planned to submit amendments to a law on "foreign agents" which would bar journalists and other people designated as such from investing in strategic industries and working with children.

The amendments, which need to be approved by the parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin before they become law, would also bar foreign agents - people or organisations receiving foreign funding to engage in what the authorities say is political activity - from receiving financial support from the state.

It would effectively bar them from investing in the defence and security industries, including in aviation, and from teaching or taking part in educational activities involving minors.

The term "foreign agent" carries negative Soviet-era connotations and subjects those listed to stringent financial reporting requirements. It also obliges them to preface anything they publish with a disclaimer on their status.

Critics say the label is designed to stifle dissent.

Lawmaker Vasily Piskaryov, chairman of a parliamentary commission investigating foreign meddling in Russia's internal affairs, said the amendments would bring existing state lists of "foreign agents" under a single registry.

"The purpose of a (single) registry is to inform the public about the sources of foreign interference in the internal political affairs of the country," Piskaryov said.

He said that the registry would contain information about foreign agents themselves and individuals affiliated with them.

Lawmakers plan to submit the amendments to the lower house of parliament, or the Duma, next week, the Interfax news agency quoted Piskaryov as saying.

In separate comments, Deputy Justice Minister Oleg Sviridenko said the ministry wanted to soften the requirement for foreign agents to mark their content on social media with a disclaimer.

He said the disclaimer should only be used on social media posts related to foreign agents' professional activities, RIA news agency reported.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Grant McCool)

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