MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s lower house of parliament gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that would allow foreign media to be banned in response to actions by other countries against Russian media.
The Kremlin-controlled State Duma approved the bill in its third final reading. The equally flexible upper house of parliament is expected to quickly approve the measure before Russian President Vladimir Putin signs it into law.
Russia has repeatedly complained in recent months that Western countries are unduly restricting Russian media by banning their operation or denying visas to their journalists. In early June, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called US media representatives, including the Associated Press, to warn them that they could be denied visa and accreditation renewals.
The new bill also allows Russia’s Prosecutor General to revoke the registration of media outlets for disseminating “illegal, dangerous, unreliable information of public importance or information expressing gross disrespect for society, the State, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as aimed at discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.
Many foreign news agencies have suspended or reduced their operations in Russia after the passage in March of a law providing for up to 15 years in prison for reporting deemed to discredit the Russian military.
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The Russian Foreign Ministry in May ordered the closure of the Moscow office of the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in response to Canada’s banning of RT, a state-controlled Russian broadcaster.
In February, as Russia was building up troops along the Ukrainian border, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle was ordered to close in Moscow after Germany banned RT’s German-language programs from airing.
In recent years, Russia has consistently cracked down on independent journalism. After the start of the conflict in Ukraine, many major independent news media closed or suspended their operations. These include the Ekho Moskvy radio station and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor, Dmitry Muratov, was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
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