* Bill takes aim at foreign-funded groups
* Human rights advisor says threatens an 'iron curtain'
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW, Nov 23 Russian lawmakers introduced a
bill to the state Duma, or lower house of parliament, on Friday
which would force foreign-funded media to register as 'foreign
agents', adding to a raft of bills that critics say is aimed at
cracking down on dissent.
The law would complement another piece of legislation that
forces non-government organisations that engage in "political
activities" and receive money from abroad to register themselves
using the same term, which is steeped in Cold-War era hostility.
"Media will be considered as such if they receive money or
property greater than 50 percent of revenues from foreign
governments and their organs, international and foreign
organisations as well as foreign citizens and people without
citizenship," Interfax reported.
It was not clear how widely the new rules would be applied,
and whether they would apply to Russian media with foreign
funding or all foreign media organisations. Russian officials
were not immediately available for comment.
While the law would not hamper the activities of media, it
is likely aimed at delegitimising those reliant on foreign funds
and advertisers, and would consolidate the predominance of
Kremlin-friendly state-owned media.
The Kremlin, which denies orchestrating a clampdown on
dissent, has said the law is needed to tighten control over
foreign-funded organisations operating in Russia to prevent them
gathering intelligence for other governments.
Following the biggest protests against his nearly 13-year
long rule, President Vladimir Putin has accused foreign
governments, including the United States, of meddling in
Critics say the law aims to link those who have spoken out
against Putin with foreign powers, who he has said wish to spark
a Russian 'colour revolution' like those that swept away
Soviet-era leaders from Georgia and Ukraine in the early 2000s.
This year Russia closed the office of the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), saying that the organisation
had tried to influence Russian politics - likely a reference to
vote monitoring group Golos, which shed light on numerous vote
fraud allegations in last year's parliamentary election.
Putin's top human rights adviser Mikhail Fedotov said the
media law threatened to isolate Russia.
"These deputies are advocating an iron curtain," Interfax
reported Fedotov as saying.
However, despite his title, Fedotov has relatively little
influence over the president's decision-making.
(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Myra MacDonald)