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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the XIX United Russia Party Congress in Moscow, Russia, November 23, 2019. Sputni...

Putin signs bill targeting journalists and bloggers

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law Monday that gives the government the right to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents.

The bill extends an existing law involving foreign-funded media outlets. That was adopted in 2017 in response to the decision by the U.S. Justice Department to label the Russian state-funded RT television a foreign agent.

The new law can apply to anyone who distributes content produced by media outlets registered as foreign agents and receives payments from abroad. Individuals registered as foreign agents will be subject to additional government scrutiny.

The move has been criticized by many in Russia for restricting freedom of expression in the country even further and allowing the authorities to crack down on dissent.