A bill to restrict foreign ownership in Russia’s media passed its first reading in the country’s State Duma lower house of parliament on Tuesday.
Proposed legislation, introduced by deputies from Russia's Communist Party, the Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party, would debar overseas individuals or companies from setting up their own media outlets in Russia and from owning more than 20% of any business in broadcasting or print media. Restrictions would apply equally to Russians who have dual citizenship and non-citizen residents.
The law “is directed first of all at guaranteeing Russia's information sovereignty and decreasing the influence from abroad on events in the country which is an information war launched against our country,” said Sergei Zhelezniak, a senior lawmaker of the ruling United Russia party.
If adopted, the bill will go into force on January 1, 2016 but stakeholders will have until February 1, 2017 to bring ownership into line with regulations.
To become law, the bill must be passed in three readings in the lower house of parliament before being approved by parliament's upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.