Russia is set to create a register of persons linked to so-called “foreign agents” as the Kremlin presses on with a crackdown on the free media since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an amendment currently being considered in the lower-house State Duma.
Anyone with links to “foreign agents” — a label used for "politically active" individuals, media outlets and NGOs that receive funding from abroad — will be added to a new register maintained by the Justice Ministry.
The registry will include heads and founders of “foreign agents” and their former and current employees in addition to individuals deemed by the state to have been politically active and received money or assistance from “foreign agents.”
Any individuals added to the new “foreign agents” registry will be required to display a lengthy boilerplate text on all published materials, including social media posts.
The move comes amid a fierce crackdown on independent journalism as the Kremlin seeks to strictly control the flow of information about its invasion of Ukraine.
Authorities have banned calling the war a "war" or "invasion," and a new law threatens up to 15 years in prison for spreading “fake news” about the Russian Armed Forces.
The last vestiges of Russia’s free press fell under Kremlin pressure last week, with radio station Eko Moskvy pulled from air, and Mediazona and Dozhd blocked for spreading “disinformation” on the war.
Dmitry Muratov, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor of Novaya Gazeta, said “everything that’s not propaganda is being eliminated.” Novaya Gazeta itself halted its coverage of the war to protect itself from being blocked.
Over 150 journalists fled Russia in the past week due to the crackdown.