Putin signs bill restricting foreign ownership of mass media into law

President Vladimir Putin has signed the controversial legislation limiting foreign ownership of media assets to 20% into law, Russian Legal Information Agency reports.

Previously, foreign entities could own up to half of any media asset in Russia.

In addition to curbing the cut of foreign shareholders, the new law stipulates that foreign citizens, stateless individuals and Russian dual citizens cannot legally establish media entities. The idea of such amendments to the Russian law on mass media was proposed by State Duma members Vadim Dengin (of the Liberal Democrat Party), Vladimir Parakhin (of United Russia) and Denis Voronenkov (of the Communist Party). Previous legislation set no restrictions on foreign persons’ or entities’ participation in print or online periodicals. A 50% cap was applicable only to stakes in television and radio broadcasters.

The law will affect some 30 media entities presently operating in Russia, including Forbes and Russian business dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti.

The law establishes and interim period until January 2017, during which the media can adhere its boards and executive positions to the new legislation.

The law specifically stipulates that the restrictions on foreign presence in the mass media are effective unless an international treaty to which Russia is a party provides otherwise, news agency TASS reports. The inter-state television and radio broadcaster MIR and the television and radio company of the union state of Russia and Belarus are examples of such exemptions.


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