Interfax: Mirroring measures against international media meddling in Russia’s internal affairs may be applied to specific social media – State Duma Deputy Speaker Tolstoy

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MOSCOW. Nov 12 (Interfax) – Russia’s ‘mirroring’ measures against international mass media interfering with internal Russian affairs may also be applied to some social networking websites, State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy (United Russia) said.

“Apart from formal participation in the capital – that is, equity holding – or in the functioning of a media in Russian territory, there is also such a thing as content exchange. In this regard, the United States has imposed restrictions on activities in social media by media companies originating from Russia,” Tolstoy told reporters on Friday in commenting on the State Duma’s drafting a relevant bill.

A “mirroring response” may vary, Tolstoy added, not ruling out that similar measures may also be adopted on the legislation level in Russia.

“Social media are mass media too,” he said, adding: “By law, as far as I know.”

“Our U.S. counterparts want to take measures not only with respect to television broadcast, but also with respect to the spread of relevant content on the internet, in particular, access to the Russian content on the internet,” Tolstoy said.

This topic has yet to be discussed and “measures could be pretty tough,” he said.

Asked whether this kind of measures would affect Facebook, he said that for now he would not like to name any specific social media company.

“We will be polite to the extent that they are being polite with us,” Tolstoy said. Deputies have no intention of introducing censure or bans, “nothing like that, which might affect the freedom of speech in Russia,” he said.

The committee for information police, legislation and public and religious affairs will be responsible for drafting the bill protecting from foreign media meddling in Russia’s domestic affairs, the deputy speaker said.

“Representatives from the Justice Ministry will also be involved,” Tolstoy said.

The bill will reflect the consolidated position of all four factions and be introduced on their behalf, he said.