Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law reducing the possible share of foreign stockholders in the Russian media to 20 percent, says the corresponding document published on the Russian government's official legal information web portal.
"Unless otherwise stipulated by an international treaty … a Russian legal entity with a foreign participation share amounting more than to 20 percent … has no right to own, manage or control… more than 20 percent of shares of the authorized capital of the entity," the document reads.
In addition, the new law stipulates that foreign citizens, stateless persons and citizens of the Russian Federation who have citizenship of another country, are not entitled to act as founders of media companies.
Permitting foreigners to control mass media could influence the strategic decision-making process and, in some cases, this could threaten the informational security of the state, as well as the rights and liberties of Russian citizens, member of the Russian Federation Council Andrei Klishas told RIA Novosti in late September.
Klishas added that similar legislation exists in many countries, for instance, in the United States foreigners can control up to 25 percent of TV channels and radio stations, while in France, Austria, Canada and Indonesia – foreigners can only hold up to 20 percent.
About 30 percent of mass media operating in Russia comes within the purview of the new law, one of its authors, Vadim Dengin, told RIA Novosti. He cited Forbes, Kommersant and Vedomosti as valid examples.
Previously foreign citizens were able to control up to 50 percent of the shares in Russian mass media entities.
According to the new law, the transition period is set until January 2017, allowing Russian media companies with foreign participation to bring the founders in line with the new legislation. The new law will come into force on January 1, 2016. RIA Novosti, Moscow, Oct 16.