Germany targets Russia for labeling critical media ‘foreign agent’

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MOSCOW – Russia classified a further independent media outlet as a foreign agent on Friday, prompting criticism from Germany’s culture minister.

The Insider, an investigative website, was the latest in a series of organizations and outlets to receive the designation, following Proekt and Meduza in recent months.

By law, media outlets in Russia must register as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad, in a designation that critics say collapses business models as frightened advertisers stay away.

Others classified as such have later been forced to close for fear of prosecution.

German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters, criticized Russia’s treatment of independent media in comments to Der Spiegel magazine on Friday.

She said the recent measures against investigative outlets Proekt and The Insider were “cause for the greatest concern.”

“Independent and critical media that expose grievances and scandals are necessary in every enlightened society,” Gruetters said, adding that she found it incomprehensible that the government increasingly saw such media as a threat.

Meduza, a news portal critical of the Russian government, was also registered as a “foreign agent” three months ago and is now struggling to continue operating.

Russia is due to hold parliamentary elections in September in a vote expected to indicate how the public views President Vladimir Putin‘s attempts to consolidate power ahead of the 2024 presidential election.