Ban on advertising with foreign agents: who it applies to and what the punishment is

Ban on advertising with foreign agents: who it applies to and what the punishment is

At the end of February 2024, the State Duma in the third reading accepted a law prohibiting placing advertisements with foreign agents, as well as advertising themselves. Who falls under the restrictions and what the consequences for violating them are in the Kommersant certificate.

Who is considered a foreign agent?

Relations between foreign agents and the state are regulated by the federal law “On control over the activities of persons under foreign influence.” Foreign agents are considered individuals or legal entities engaged in political activities or collecting information about the domestic military sphere and who are “under foreign influence.” It may consist of financing, provision of organizational, methodological, scientific, technical and other assistance. In addition, coercion, persuasion and other methods are considered influence.

A foreign source is considered to be both foreign companies and citizens, and Russian ones that receive funding or support from abroad.

There are four types of foreign agents in total:

  • non-profit organizations (NPOs);
  • individuals;
  • unregistered public associations (NOO).

An individual may also be recognized by the media. Since December 2022, the Ministry of Justice has been conducting a unified registry foreign agents. It currently contains 774 entries. Latest addition to the list happened March 1.

Who cannot become a foreign agent

The following cannot be recognized as foreign agents:

  • public authorities of the Russian Federation;
  • persons controlled by the Russian Federation, constituent entities of Russia and municipalities;
  • state-owned companies and entities controlled by them;
  • management bodies of state extra-budgetary funds;
  • registered religious organizations;
  • registered political parties;
  • registered employers' associations, chambers of commerce and industry;
  • heads of diplomatic missions and consular offices of foreign states in the Russian Federation and their employees;
  • employees and members of the apparatus of the military attache, trade and other representative offices of authorities of foreign states;
  • employees of international or equivalent organizations performing official duties in the Russian Federation;
  • holders of diplomatic and service passports who officially perform the duties of representatives of foreign states in Russia.

What bans are being introduced?

New law prohibits citizens and Russian companies from placing advertisements on any resources of foreign agents. The restrictions apply to all platforms owned by such persons, including blogs, social networks, etc.

The document also introduces a ban on advertising of foreign agents themselves by the media or specialized agencies. The parliamentarians clarified that the restrictions do not apply to information messages mentioning such persons if they contain the necessary markings. The ban applies only to advertising materials, for example, those containing a link to a foreign agent’s resource.

Punishment for breaking the law

Foreign agents are subject to administrative liability for placing advertisements on their resources. Punishment - a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles. for individuals and up to 500 thousand rubles. - for legal entities. In addition, in the case of such an offense, after being brought to administrative responsibility twice within one year, punishment will follow in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. It can reach up to two years in prison.

Punishment for media and advertising companies is also provided for in the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. Advertising the resources of foreign agents is subject to a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles. However, the media will first receive notice that the law has been violated. The organization will have one month to correct the material. If after this period the violation is not eliminated, a fine will follow.

Market participants considerthat the new bans will affect the income of foreign agents only in the first six months. Then the places of the departed advertisers will be taken by companies from other countries, or organizations will include fines in their budget.

When will the law take effect?

The bill must be considered by the Federation Council, and then signed by the president. If approved, the document will come into force ten days after signing by the Russian leader and official publication.

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that over the past year, more than 200 Russian individuals and legal entities placed advertisements on foreign agents’ resources. He addedthat “many of the scoundrels who received this money do not hide the fact that they used it to finance the Kyiv Nazi regime, which is killing our soldiers, officers, and civilians.”

The bill was introduced by a group of 395 State Duma deputies on February 15, 2024. It included the leaders of the parties of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party and “A Just Russia - For Truth” Gennady Zyuganov, Leonid Slutsky and Sergei Mironov, as well as the chairman of the lower house Vyacheslav Volodin.

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