Law of the Week: ‘Foreign agent’ law used to brand three organisations and nine individuals as ‘foreign agents’

Week-ending 8 October 2021

This week the ‘foreign agent’ law was used to brand three organisations and nine individuals as ‘foreign agents’. The organisations are the investigative group Bellingcat, which is based not in Russia but in The Netherlands, MEMO, which is the publisher of the independent news outlet Caucasian Knot, and the US company Mason GES Anonymous Foundation, which owns the M.News online publication. The nine individuals include Galina Arapova, one of Russia’s leading media lawyers and head of the Voronezh-based Media Right Defence Centre, Ekaterina Klepikovskaya (journalist with RFE/RL), Roman Perl (journalist with the TV channel Nastoyashchee vremya), Evgeny Simonov (journalist and an environmental activist), Elena Solovyova (journalist with RFE/RL), Daniil Sotnikov (journalist with Dozhd TV channel), Elizaveta Surnacheva (journalist with the TV channel Nastoyashchee vremya), Tatyana Voltskaya (journalist with RFE/RL) and Andrei Zakharov (journalist with the BBC). As RFE/RL notes, ‘Being labeled as a “foreign agent” obligates individual journalists and media organizations to register with authorities, and label their content with an intrusive disclaimer, with criminal fines for not doing so. That has led to several media organizations shutting down as they lose revenues from spooked advertisers.’


The Moscow Times, 8 October 2021: Bellingcat, as well as the independent Caucasian Knot news website and journalists including BBC Russian correspondent Andrei Zakharov and Dozhd journalist Daniil Sotnikov, appeared on the Justice Ministry’s lists of media outlets and individuals “performing the functions of a foreign agent.”  

RFE/RL, 9 October 2021: Russia added a dozen new journalists and media organizations to its “foreign agents” list, including RFE/RL reporters and the open-source investigative group Bellingcat, as authorities tightened their grip on independent journalism in the country. […] Aside from Bellingcat, the Justice Ministry on October 8 designated five RFE/RL journalists: Tatyana Voltskaya, Ekaterina Klepikovskaya, and Elena Solovyova, who collaborate with RFE/RL’s Russian Service and its North Desk; Elizaveta Surnacheva, a Russian journalist who works for Current Time in Kyiv; and Current Time freelance TV journalist Roman Perl.

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