Putin warns Muratov could be labeled foreign agent

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Russian journalist who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize could be labeled as a foreign agent if he is confirmed to have violated the law.

Putin on Wednesday spoke of Dmitry Muratov, editor of Russian independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta, for the first time since he won the prize together with a journalist from the Philippines last week.

Putin was asked at an international forum in Moscow on whether Muratov will be guaranteed he will not be designated as a foreign agent.

Putin replied that as long as Muratov doesn't violate Russian law, he won't be labeled as a foreign agent.

But he warned that if Muratov hides behind the Nobel prize in order to do something that violates Russian law, it would mean he would do this deliberately to draw attention or for some other reason.

He added that if Muratov violates the law, he could be branded a foreign agent regardless of the prize.

Putin's comments come as his administration has increasingly cracked down on media outlets that are critical of the government by designating them as foreign agents. The registry effectively hampers their reporting work.

Muratov's newspaper, Novaja Gazeta, and other independent media outlets are calling on Russia to guarantee the freedom of the press.