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Russia's Putin signs law to label people foreign agents

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint video conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given his approval for a legislation banning the sale of smartphones, TVs and computers without government approved apps pre-installed onto them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Monday amendments to a law allowing individuals to be labeled as foreign agents, drawing criticism from activists campaigning for freedom of speech.

Foreign agents, defined as involved in politics and receiving money from overseas, must register with the justice ministry, label publications with the tag and submit detailed paperwork or face fines.

Nine human rights NGOs including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have expressed concern that the law is not only limited to journalists but will also apply to bloggers and internet consumers who receive scholarships, funding or revenue from various media outlets.

Russian Federation has introduced tougher internet laws in recent years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store user data on servers in the country.

Moscow claims the law is a response to a decision by the USA government to require Russia's state-funded channel RT, to register its U.S. operating unit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

According to a report in the Meduza news website, companies will face a fine of 200,000 rubles ($3,100) for not abiding by the law.

Foreign organizations like the MacArthur Foundation have shuttered their offices in Russian Federation in recent years in response to the foreign agent law. Individuals registered as foreign agents will be subject to additional government scrutiny.

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