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Russian Lawmakers OK Bill On 'False News' About Military Operations, In Further Curb On Media

By RFE/RL's Russian Service March 04, 2022

Russian lawmakers have approved a draft law criminalizing the distribution of "false news" about military operations amid a crackdown on independent media outlets covering Moscow's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The bill, approved on March 4, will be added as a separate article to the Criminal Code to "prevent the discrediting of the armed forces of the Russian Federation during their operations to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security."

The new law envisions penalties of up to 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of the offense. The penalty for the distribution of fake news about the Russian Army that leads to "serious consequences" rises to up to 15 years in prison.

It also makes it illegal "to make calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "for discrediting such use" with a penalty possible of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.

The move comes as Russian authorities ratchet up pressure on media outlets, threatening them for their reporting about the invasion on topics such as the heavy resistance being put up by Ukrainian forces despite Russia's overwhelming military power.

Russia's media regulator Roskomnadzor has ordered media across the country to only publish information provided by official sources. It also forbids describing the unprovoked actions as an "invasion" or a "war," instead insisting they are called "special military operations."

Earlier on March 4, media regulator Roskomnadzor said it had "limited" access to independent media outlets, including multiple RFE/RL websites, the Russian sites of BBC and Deutsche Welle, as well as Facebook and Twitter. It also limited access to the app stores for Apple and Google.

On March 3, one of the most popular media outlets in the country, the Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio station, said it would be closing, at least temporarily, after being taken off air this week over its coverage of the invasion.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-fake-news-military- invasion-independent-media/31735798.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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