Russia tightens grip on coverage of war

Published on Mar 05, 2022 05:46 AM IST

Russia’s upper house of parliament has approved a draft law that would impose a jail term of up to 15 years for people who intentionally spread ‘fake’ information about the country's armed forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the nation in the Kremlin in Moscow. (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the nation in the Kremlin in Moscow. (AP)
Agencies | , Moscow

Russia’s upper house of parliament approved a draft law on Friday that would impose a jail term of up to 15 years for people who intentionally spread “fake” information about Russia’s armed forces, the TASS news agency reported.

The bill will become law once President Vladimir Putin signs it, as he is widely expected to do. Moscow says it is fighting back in what it casts as an information war with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.

Also Read | Entire staff of Russian TV channel resigns on air over Ukraine war

The law, a senior lawmaker said, will apply to foreigners too, as Moscow moves to muffle dissent over its invasion of Ukraine.

The new legislation sets out jail terms of varying lengths and fines against people who publish “knowingly false information” about the military.

“If the fakes led to serious consequences, (the legislation) threatens imprisonment of up to 15 years,” the lower house of parliament said in a statement.

Amendments were also passed to fine or jail people calling for sanctions against Russia with jail terms. The past year has seen an unprecedented crackdown on independent and critical voices in Russia that has intensified since the invasion.

Foreign media restricted

Russia’s media watchdog said Friday it had restricted access to the BBC and other independent media websites, further tightening controls over the internet.

Also Read | BBC 'temporarily suspends' work of all journalists and support staff in Russia

The independent news website Meduza, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and the Russian-language website of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Svoboda, were “limited,” said Roskomnadzor, following a request from prosecutors.

In another attack on critical voices, Russian police on Friday were carrying out searches at the office of the country’s most prominent rights group, Memorial, which was ordered to close late last year.

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