TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Duma approved the bill on Wednesday in what senior lawmakers said was a direct response to a move by the US government to register Moscow-sponsored Russia Today, or RT, as a foreign agent.
Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the new legislation was a "symmetrical answer" to Washington and a sign of Moscow’s anger at the way the US administration has treated the Russian media.
The new measure, which requires the endorsement of Russia’s upper house and President Vladimir Putin before it goes into law, would allow the Kremlin to require international media to declare themselves as foreign agents, to regularly explain their political activities and to file information about their funding, finances and staffing.
Putin had earlier reacted angrily to the US designation several days ago of RT as a foreign agent, which came over allegations of the media outlet’s meddling in last year's presidential election in the US. Putin vowed that Moscow would retaliate against the move, which he said was an attack on the freedom of speech.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after Duma’s ratification of the bill that Moscow had now more leeway to reciprocate any foreign action against the Russian media.
He said the Russian government would “use the opportunities offered by the bill for a timely quid pro quo response,” adding, “Any infringement on the freedom of Russian media abroad will not be left without a harsh answer.”
There was also criticism pouring from the West with some calling the legislation as an attack on the freedom of media.