MOSCOW: Russian lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill allowing the government to register international media outlets as foreign agents.
Wednesday's move by the parliament's lower house is a rapid quid pro quo response after the Russian state-funded TV channel RT registered with the US Justice Department as a foreign agent after pressure from the US government.
Lawmaker Leonid Levin said the bill will provide a tool for the Justice Ministry to designate international media outlets as foreign agents. Once registered, they will face requirements currently applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organizations.
The bill will go to the upper house and then to President Vladimir Putin for signing.
U.S. intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a Kremlin tool to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied any interference.