On Wednesday, November 15, State Duma deputies gave the second and final third readings to the draft law on the possibility of pre-trial blocking of websites of organisations, the activities of which are banned in Russia. The MPs voted to adopt amendments to recognise a media outlet as a foreign agent in case this media outlet is funded from abroad. As many as 409 out of 450 MPs voted to adopt the amendments.
Before the law comes into force, it will have to be approved by the Council of the Federation and signed by the president. Afterwards, a media outlet holding the status of a foreign agent will be subject to restrictions and commitments provided for non-profit organisations (foreign agents).
For the time being, there are eleven foreign and international NGOs, the activities of which are recognised as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the websites that those organisations use have not been blocked in Russia, even though those resources "are used to prepare and disseminate materials that discredit Russia's domestic and foreign policies, to form negative public opinion and destabilise the situation in the country," the law-makers said.
State Duma's decision came in response to the recent requirement from the US Department of Justice to register RT America TV channel, the American branch of the Russian television company, as a foreign agent.