The bill also extends to employees of foreign funded NGOs with rights group warning it is aimed at throttling journalism.

Both houses of Russia’s parliament have endorsed that opens the way for the labelling of individual journalists as foreign agents. 

The bill not only targets journalists but also non-governmental organisation workers within the country.

Human rights groups see the move as the latest in a string of measures designed to stifle criticism of the Russian government.

Moscow initially adopted the foreign agent law in 2012 giving authorities the power to label NGOs and human rights groups foreign agents.

The move was a response to mass protests in 2012, which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin accused Western countries and media outlets of stirring up.

In 2017, new additions were added to the Foreign Agent Bill to cover media outlets that cover political issues and receive foreign support.

Bloggers and independent journalists who receive payment for any article paid for by foreign media outlets are also affected by the bill.

These journalists are required to register with the Ministry of Justice and those living abroad are required to register with an official entity inside Russia.

Fines of between $160 and $79,000 could be levied on those who do not comply with the regulations.

Rights groups say that the measures are a violation of international standards aimed at ensuring and protecting the right to free expression and activism.

The legislation has been criticised by both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International.

A joint statement by HRW and other rights groups read:

“We call on the Russian government to drop the proposed amendments and bring the existing legislation in line with Russia’s obligations under international human rights law, including the right to freedom of expression (article 10) and the right to freedom of assembly and association (article 11) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The government should end its continued efforts to throttle online debate and silence independent journalism in the country.”

Source: TRT World