Russia makes military corruption news coverage grounds for “foreign agent” status


News organizations in Russia risk being labeled “foreign agents” for covering corruption, crime and other issues within the military and space industries, under new rules that are likely to weigh more heavily on Russia’s media landscape. country.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) on Tuesday released a 60-point list of information that is not classified as a state secret, but that “states, organizations and foreign citizens can use against the security of the Russia ”.

According to the list, covering military crimes, troop morale or the size, weapons, deployments, training and structure of the Russian armed forces and other security organs are all grounds for a media to qualify. of “foreign agent”.

The FSB monitors television crews on Russia’s border with Norway. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

News organizations are also at risk of being labeled a “foreign agent” for covering military tenders and issues that “hamper the development” of the notoriously corrupt public space agency Roscosmos.

The FSB released the list of “foreign agents” information the same week that Russia nearly doubled its list of “foreign agent” media and journalists. Critics have criticized the recent appointments, which pose existential threats to news organizations’ business models, amid a growing crackdown on independent voices.

“Foreign agents” are required by law to submit regular financial reports and include boilerplate listing their designation on everything they post, including social media posts. The media claim that the label keeps them away from advertisers, sources and partners.


Russia’s justice ministry told activists in August that the government has broad authority to determine the grounds for labeling a retail outlet, NGO or individual a “foreign agent.” Gifts from relatives and attending international conferences, for example, are grounds for qualifying as a “foreign agent”.

The Kremlin claimed to have passed the “foreign agents” law in retaliation against state-funded news outlets RT and Sputnik who were forced to register as such in the United States.

The Kremlin has rejected recent calls to abolish its “foreign agents” law, while senior Russian lawmakers have vowed to address claims that the legislation is too vague this fall.

This article first appeared in The Moscow Times and is republished in a sharing partnership with the Barents Observer.


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