Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill, which restricts foreigners to a maximum stake of 20 percent in Russian media companies.
 
The law will come into force on January 1, 2016. The man behind the new laws, Russian MP Vadim Dengin, told Al Jazeera, 'Every country in a moment of stress realises that if you own information you own the world.'
 
He added, 'If you own mass media, internet, newspapers, magazines, information agencies at the moment, you can start changing minds and promote your ideas and people will start believing them.' 
 
Critics warn that the move will dramatically shrink the space for independent journalism.
 
Russia's most prominent independent newspaper, Vedomosti, which is owned by a consortium including Dow Jones and the Financial Times Group, will now have to seek new ownership or close its doors.
 
Many other countries have similar legislation. In the United States, a decades-old rule has prevented foreigners owning a more than 25 percent stake in a US radio or television station.
 
This decision comes at a time when tension between Russia and the West is at its heighest level since the Cold War.
 
The Committee to Protect Journalists has warned that reporters investigating the deaths of Russian soldiers in Ukraine have been subject to threats, intimidation and physical assault.  
 
In a letter to President Putin, in March, its Executive Director Joel Simon said: 'The ability of Russia's independent media to function without fear of harassment and obstruction is crucial for both Russia's domestic audience and the international community.'
 
So, is Russia simply protecting its own security or taking a step back towards totalitarianism? 
   
Presenter: Mike Hanna
 
Guests:
 
Mikhail Zygar - Editor-in-chief of the independent Russian TV channel, TV Rain.
 
Sarah Firth - Former Russia Today correspondent
 
Sergey Markov - Member of the United Russia Party.  

Live Box 201493123623889276


 

Source: Al Jazeera