Media: Latvia considers recognizing Russian TV channels as foreign agents

The Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (LSDWP) has prepared a petition calling for the adoption of a law that would give the Russian TV channels in the country the status of foreign agents, reported Russian newspaper Izvestiya.

The request was registered by LSDWP board member Raymond Leijnieks-Puke. According to the news outlet, the document was placed on the official social initiatives platform, where citizens can collect the necessary 10,000 signatures for the document to be transferred to the Saeima.

“We have sent a letter with our proposal to the Saeima. However, if we manage to collect the necessary number of signatures, the Latvian parliament will be obligated to deal with this matter,” Leijnieks-Puke told the news outlet. “We believe that the Russian TV channels are directly connected to the Kremlin, and are trying to undermine the unity of the EU and NATO. The status of foreign agents will significantly restrict their activity.”

Furthermore, the party asked the Latvian Ministry of Economy to increase the price of broadcasting in Russian. Izvestia has a copy of the relevant letter. “We want the Russian channels to be moved to a more expensive service package. Currently the primary offer includes seven Russian TV channels. Those who want to watch them should pay extra,” the LDSWP board member observed.

On November 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments to the Russian legislative norms on media outlets functioning as foreign agents. The document, which was adopted by the State Duma on November 15 and ratified by the Federation Council on November 22, was published on the official legal information portal.

The provisions of the law make it possible to recognize media outlets as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad. Once they have been given the status of foreign agent, media outlets will be subject to certain restrictions and obligations which currently apply to foreign agent non-profit organizations. They will also be liable to the same penalties as NPOs for legal violations. The new amendments were a response to the US Justice Ministry’s demand that the US branch of the Russia Today TV channel register as a foreign agent.

  foreign agent, Latvia, Russian TV channels