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Jan 12, 6:47 AM EST

Russia gives early approval to new bill on foreign media

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill that could oblige some journalists to register as foreign agents.

The bill that passed the first reading at the State Duma on Friday allows the government to designate individuals who are "performing the function of a media outlet" as foreign agents. The legislation is the latest tit-for-tat between Russia and the U.S. over government-funded media outlets.

The media dispute began in November when Kremlin-funded RT television was registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent following a demand from Washington. In retaliation, Russia adopted a bill that allows the government to designate international media outlets as foreign agents.

The new bill raised concern that the Russian government could be using it against foreign correspondents in Russia.

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