Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova's Comment on new legislative initiatives in the UK

We have noted the publications announcing a number of upcoming legislative initiatives of the UK government aimed at countering the hostile activities of foreign states – primarily, Russia and China.

Of particular interest with regards to this is the act regulating the work of foreign agents, which includes the requirement for all individuals and legal entities working on behalf of foreign countries in Britain to register their presence. Failure to do so will be a criminal offence and will entail deportation. The publications note that London plans to use the experience of its allies, primarily the United States, in this matter.

It is alarming that the drafting of new laws in the UK is accompanied by vehement anti-Russian rhetoric. We interpret this as the British political elites’ tendency to continue the policy of artificially peddling the threat of mythical ‘Russian interference’ to suit their unscrupulous interests. Allow me to remind you that so far, London has not presented any single piece of proof of such accusations against the Russian Federation.

It seems that the British side is trying to keep afloat this long obsolete and far-fetched topic to justify the restrictive measures against Russian and Russian-speaking journalists, the media, as well as our citizens living and working in the UK.

We call on the human rights community to thoroughly examine the new legislation for compliance with international legal norms and the UK’s obligations. We hope that London will avoid spy mania in the Cold War spirit and will not subject bona fide citizens and journalists to unreasonable persecution on the grounds of some imaginary ties with our country.

It's funny that it was actually London that criticised Russia harsher than others for the foreign agents laws Russia adopted and implemented. But there is one subtle detail. Russia has developed that package of laws in response to the US's application of its archaic foreign agents legislation targeting the Russian media and media outlets affiliated with Russia in one way or another. Had it not been for such moves against Russian citizens, journalists working for our media, and American citizens hired by companies associated with the Russian media, Russia would not have developed such an impressive package.

When those laws were being drafted, we made it quite clear that this was a deterrent response to US action. What makes London pass such bills? Perhaps the United States has applied its foreign agent law to the BBC, at least once? It is sponsored, supported and funded by the British government – is it not the definition of a foreign agent? Yet, there is no hint of anything like that happening to the BBC. Why, then, would London develop foreign agents bills similar to those they slammed Russia for? We will keep this topic under review, as a very important and relevant subject.