Russia proposes curbs for foreign media ownership

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill limiting foreign ownership in Russian media to 20 percent.

The State Duma voted 434-1 to pass the first reading of the law. The bill can be amended in the second reading, and either adopted or withdrawn in the third.

The bill has been seen as the Kremlin's latest attempt to stifle media freedom. Many of Russia's leading media outlets, including the Vedomosti daily and the Russian Forbes magazine, have foreign ownership.

The proponents of the bill said it was crucial to introduce the curbs in the view of the "information war" waged on Russia because of the Ukraine crisis. Ukraine and Western countries claim that Russia has sent troops and equipment to aid separatist pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east; Moscow denies those allegations.

"In the time of the information war, we must ensure our information security and protect our public opinion from actions of the enemy," said Roman Chuichenko, a parliament member from the United Russia party that is President Vladimir Putin's power base.

Russia earlier this year banned several websites that were notable for their criticism of the government and a blog run by a prominent opposition leader.

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