À la guerre comme à la guerre

The Russian Parliament has adopted in the first reading a draft law that requires the media to notify Roskomnadzor, the Russian media regulator, of any foreign funding. A year ago, a law was passed restricting the share of foreign shareholders in the Russian media by 20%.

Although it is possible to get round both the law and the bill, the government is sending a signal to publishers and society: Russia is in a state of information warfare.

The bill provides that, in cases where the media gets the money or other assets from a foreign state they are required to notify the media regulator within 30 days. In case of violation, the media shall have to pay a penalty equal to the amount of the funds. For repeated violations the media can be liquidated.

The draft law does not apply to the revenues from advertising, nor to funds received from the shareholders. It also does not apply to bloggers and Russian offices of foreign media. A year ago a law was passed restricting the participation of foreign shareholders in the Russian media to 20%, operative from 2016. Publishers will have time to bring their affairs in line with the law up to January 1, 2017.

More than half of the Russian media will be affected by the law including TV channel CTC Media, the publishing houses Sanoma Independent Media, Conde Nast, Hearst Shkulev Media, Burda, Forbes (published by Axel Springer), the radio station "Echo of Moscow" (one of its owners is Vladimir Gusinsky, a citizen of Israel), "Vedomosti" (owned by Sanoma, The Wall Street Journal.