Russia Drafting Tit-for-Tat Laws Aimed at US Media

Russian lawmakers are in the midst of drafting new laws that will have some "bite" when it comes to forcing foreign news outlets, including American ones, to register as foreign agents.

The change in law, which one Russian lawmaker expects next week, comes in response to the U.S. Department of Justice's demand that the American arm of RT, a Moscow-headquartered news channel, register itself as a foreign agent in the U.S. The channel, described by U.S. intelligence [PDF] as a "propaganda outlet," announced Thursday it would comply because it had "no choice."

Russia's State Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy said Russia would draft tit-for-tat restrictions on foreign outlets in Russia that circulate what Russia's TASS news service paraphrased Tolstoy as describing as "undesirable content."

"I think some practical steps, such as amendments to the law on media, will follow next week," another lawmaker, Alexander Yushchenko, told TASS. "I believe it is necessary to enshrine some specific provisions in the legislation, namely, which foreign media outlets should be considered foreign agents."

"Our (foreign agent law) will have just as much bite as in the U.S.," he said.