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Russia declares top journalist and video blogger 'foreign agents'

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By Reuters

– Russia has declared a prominent journalist, a video blogger and six other media figures “foreign agents”, the latest in a series of such moves that critics say are designed to stifle dissent.

The expanded list, published by the Justice Ministry late on Friday, included Elizaveta Osetinskaya, former editor-in-chief of several Russian business newspapers that published disclosures about the commercial interests of people close to President Vladimir Putin.

The term “foreign agent” carries negative Soviet-era connotations and subjects those listed to stringent financial reporting requirements. It also obliges them to preface anything they publish with a disclaimer stating they are foreign agents.

The list also included Maria Borzunova, a reporter from the independent TV Rain (Dozhd) channel, which was itself declared a “foreign agent” last August and suspended its work after Russia blocked access to its website in March.

Evgeny Ponasenkov, a writer and video blogger, known for witty off-the-cuff remarks taking aim at the government on social media and talk shows on state-run TV channels, was also named a “foreign agent”.