Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed on 2 December the bill that allows the Kremlin to label journalists, but also ordinary people, as “foreign agents“, if they receive financial or other material support from foreign media organisations.

The Kremlin passed the original foreign agent law in 2012, following the largest anti-government protests since Putin came to power.

The move has been described human rights activists as a scare tactic to target government critics.

Moscow claims the law is a response to a decision by the US government to require Russia’s state-funded channel RT, to register its US operating unit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Activists say the law “invades” the lives and security of reporters.