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RUSSIA'S lower house of parliament gave preliminary approval yesterday to a law giving Moscow the power to designate foreign media operating in Russian Federation as "foreign agents" required to disclose where they get their funding and how they spend it.

Decisions regarding registration of media as "foreign agents" are to be made by the Ministry of Justice.

Russian MPs have approved legal amendments that could force critical overseas media to register as "foreign agents" and be subjected to financial audits and checks on their activity.

It has vowed to retaliate by imposing restrictions on some foreign media operating in Russian Federation. In mid-2016, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that defined the term "political activity of non-governmental organizations" and exempted charity groups receiving funding from overseas from having to register as foreign agents.

According to a source at the Justice Ministry cited by RIA Novosti, Russia may impose restrictions on the Voice of America as part of response measures.

On November 13, Russia Today (RT) filed documents with the US Justice Department to register as a foreign agent.

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"VOA can not comment on and will not speculate on any proposed actions by any other entities", Bennett said on Wednesday.

United States authorities accused Russian media outlets of influencing public opinion during the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news.

For the time being, there are eleven foreign and global NGOs, the activities of which are recognised as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Non-compliant foreign organizations could be blocked without a court order in Russian Federation.

In the 450-seat State Duma, 414 lawmakers voted on Wednesday for the new bill in a third and final reading, with none against, Russian news agencies reported.

"Americans have a right to know who is acting in the United States to influence the U.S. government or public on behalf of foreign principals", said the U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Dana J. Boente, in a statement announcing RT's registration.


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