12 Jan 2021 18:28

Roskomnadzor opens 8 administrative cases in relation to Radio Liberty projects

MOSCOW. Jan 12 (Interfax) - Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has drawn up eight of 18 administrative offence reports with regard to four websites that are projects of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporation for not displaying markings denoting them as media outlets designated as foreign agents in Russia, and these will be forwarded to courts within the next three days.

"The first eight reports have been drawn up under Article 19.31.1 of Administrative Violations Code with regard to media outlets functioning as foreign agents without complying with the law requiring that they duly mark the information they spread. In the presence of representatives of the media outlets acting as foreign agents, the reports were drawn up due to the absence of markings on four websites. The reports will reach a magistrates' court within three working days for decisions to be made on administrative penalties," Roskomnadzor said.

"These media outlets had been informed beforehand that they had to comply with the marking legislation, but no proper reaction followed," it said.

Roskomnadzor did not specify what particular media outlets designated as foreign agents were implied.

It was reported earlier that Russia's telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor planned to draw up 18 administrative offense protocols on projects run by the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasting corporation and also the chief executive of its legal entity set up in Russia, RFE/RL Russian Service Director Andrey Shary. "The first protocols will be issued in relation to nine media outlets (for a lack of due labeling [foreign-agent disclaimers] on their websites) managed by one legal entity. The protocols will be compiled throughout January," the watchdog's press service told Interfax in December.

Previously, RFE/RL received notifications from Roskomnadzor regarding the issuance of protocols on administrative liability for missing foreign-agent media labels, Shary told Interfax. According to SPARK-Interfax, Shary is director general of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty LLC, registered in Russia in 2020.

Administrative protocols will be drawn up on charges of violating the order of activity of a foreign media outlet that acts as a foreign agent. The charges carry fines ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 rubles for officials and from 500,000 to five million rubles for legal entities.

The total of fines to be imposed on RFE/RL media projects if a magistrate's court agrees with Roskomnadzor may reach 4.95 million rubles.

In line with Roskomnadzor's order dated September 23, 2020, reports and materials of media outlets acting as foreign agents should contain the following disclaimer, "This report (material) was created and (or) disseminated by a foreign media outlet functioning as a foreign agent, and (or) a Russian legal entity functioning as a foreign-agent." The font size of the disclaimer must be twice as big as the font size of the initial report.

There are 10 media outlets on the list of foreign-agent media, Voice of America (VoA), the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) corporation and its eight projects, in particular Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii, Krym.Realii, the Tatarstan and Bashkortostan RFE/RL service Azatliq Radiosi, Sibir.Realii, Factograph, Sever.Realii and the Current Time television channel, and also Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty LLC.

On December 21, 2020, the Czech news agency Medium-Orient was included on the list. On December 28, 2020, the list was expanded by adding For Human Rights movement leader Lev Ponomarev, Sever.Realii journalist Lyudmila Savitskaya, 7x7 journalist Sergei Markelov, Pskovskaya Guberniya editor-in-chief Denis Kamalyagin and St. Petersburg-based artist, Rodina art group activist Darya Apakhonchich.