On 3 July, a new media law was approved in Russia that will have as a consequence that independent journalists who publish their work in media will be qualified as “foreign agents” if they are funded from abroad. Those who receive payments for their production will also be considered as “foreign agents”. This status will lead them automatically to a complicated taxation procedure.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Russian member-union, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), are deeply worried by this new legislation that responds to similar legal provisions taken in the United States of America, which took sanctions against Russian media described as “foreign agents” according to the Foreign Registration Act. Both IFJ and RUJ denounced those sanctions and expressed their fear this would lead to “retaliation” such as the law approved by the Russian Douma, but their voices were regrettably ignored.
IFJ and RUJ ask formally this “media war” to come to an end: neither media, nor journalists must be described as “foreign agents” in democratic countries.
“We ask the Russian authorities to withdraw this law and initiate this way a deescalation process in this absurd media cold war”, said Philippe Leruth, the IFJ president.
"In Russia, as in the United States, journalists must be able to work freely and responsibly, according to the laws and their professional duty”, added Leruth.
“The RUJ will monitor every attempt to declare a journalist a foreign agent, it will examine it carefully and protest if it sees the slightest attempt to violate the rights of our colleagues. The procedure for making such a decision is very difficult as it requires the approval of a series of agencies, and at each stage, the RUJ will be able to intervene and influence the process”, Vladimir Solovyev, the RUJ President said.
IFJ and RUJ vow to work together to defend journalists' rights in Russia and the IFJ will keep on defending in the very same way the rights of Russian journalists working in the United States.