Kremlin supports limits of foreign equity among news aggregators

Kremlin supports limits of foreign equity among news aggregators
Dmitry Peskov

In Peskov’s words, the bill on the limits of foreign equity among companies owning news aggregators proposed by the State Duma members needs further elaboration, but on the whole, Kremlin is fine with it.

Kremlin believes news aggregators may be equivalent to the media, and, thus, ought to be a subject to a limitation of foreign equity, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said, reports RBС.

“With no doubt, [news] aggregators that have a reach of a certain number of users can somehow, from experts’ point of view, be equivalent to the media,” Peskov said. 

In his words, the current law on limitation of foreign equity within the media has been in effect for several years now, and it didn’t cause the media owners any significant issues. As soon as this law was enacted, in case some of the media owners didn’t fit it, they harmonized it with the existing legislation.” Peskov noted.

When asked about depreciation of Yandex against the background of the new law, Peskov said that they “had obtained assurances from Yandex” that they will have no difficulty as to harmonizing its structure with the new law. 

When asked whether Kremlin believes this new law is reasonable taking into account that the same law is in effect as to the media, Peskov answered: “Kremlin is fine with it, however, it needs further elaboration.” 

The day before, the State Duma members proposed to limit foreign equity among news aggregators to 20% noting that the same limitations have been in effect as to the media since 2016.

The objective of the initiative is to limit participating of foreign states, international organizations, and foreign and Russian legal bodies in activities of an owner of a news aggregator if its foreign equity exceeds 20%. Should the law be enacted, the limitations are also going to be applied to Russian citizens holding dual citizenship, and persons without citizenship. 

According to Roskomnadzor’s (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media) news aggregators roster, in Russia, resources with a reach of more than 1 million users per 24 hours are considered news aggregators. Russia has only 4 of them: Yandex.Novosti (Yandex.News), Mail.Ru Novosti (Mail.Ru News), Rambler/Novosti (Rambler/News) and SMI2Google News is not included due to its insignificant audience. 

Yandex shares fell by 5% after the news on a bill limiting foreign equity among news aggregators emerged. 

“If the law is enacted, the company’s board of management will consider possible options as to reorganization the news service,  in light of legal requirements.” Ilia Grabovsky, Yandex media relations officer, reported to RBC.

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