In Russia's latest counter attack against the sanctions imposed on it over the Ukraine crisis, a new legislation is gaining momentum that aims to limit foreign media ownership in the country.
The proposal could uproot the Russian business side of several international media groups, including the country's leading business daily Vedomosti, which is part owned by the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The proposal has so far been supported and approved by President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, with a high likelihood of being signed into law by Putin in the final reading.
The proposal received one opposing vote from a delegate of A Just Russia party, Dmitry Gudkov, who said: "This law will hit the Russian media business. There will be an outflow of managers, investment and technology."
Attack on Press Freedom
Foreign and local media executives expressed frustration at what seems to be a direct attack on press freedom.
The Financial Times quoted a foreign executive who was heard saying:
"In fact, this writes Russian raider attacks into law – it will mean a raft of forced sales. Kremlin conservatives are using anti-foreign sentiment created by Moscow's stand-off with the west over Ukraine to consolidate the grip of select companions of Mr Putin on the media industry."
The draft legislation will also prevent foreign investors from hiring top editors in a move to separate ownership and publisher roles.
"With all these details, this is a piece of legislation that has not been written hastily but with careful consideration to close all potential loopholes," said the foreign executive.
Next week, Russia's Security Council will examine strategies to separate Russia's internet from the world wide web, which Kremlin says is a measure to protect the Russian web from US attacks.