Russian bill paves way for swift retaliation against foreign media

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The Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower and Saint Basil’s Cathedral are seen through an art object in Zaryadye Park in Moscow, Russia March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

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LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) – News agencies in countries that “discriminate” against Russian media could see their Russian operations quickly shut down under a bill proposed by a new Russian parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

The move – which the commission chief said was a response to Western restrictions on pro-Kremlin media outlets such as the Sputnik news agency and the RT television channel – adds to the challenges already facing foreign media outlets. under scrutiny for their coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We believe that hostile actions by foreign states against our media, whether banning or restricting the distribution of their products, should receive a quick and symmetrical response,” said Vasily Piskarev, Chairman of the Commission to Investigate the Interference of Foreign States in Internal Affairs of Russia.

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The bill was presented at the first meeting of the new commission.

Piskarev said this would mean that if a foreign state discriminates against Russian journalists, the attorney general could quickly ban or restrict the activities of that country’s media.

“We are talking about a ban on the distribution in Russia of any information materials of these media, including via the Internet, the termination of the accreditation of correspondents and the closure of its representative offices in our country.”

Some major foreign media outlets have already withdrawn their correspondents from Russia since parliament passed a law on March 4 that makes public actions aimed at “discrediting” the Russian military illegal.

The law provides for a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading false news or “publicly disseminating deliberately false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”.

Russia rejects the use of the terms “war” or “invasion” to describe its actions in Ukraine, which it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine and Western governments reject this as a false pretext to invade a democratic country.

Russian state-controlled media RT and Sputnik were banned across the European Union on March 2. .

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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