Russia’s National Assembly, or Duma, on Friday approved a new bill allowing the prosecution of those who “spread false news about the Russian military.”
Writes the Russian state-owned news agency tast and Reuters.
The bill provides for heavy fines and prison terms of up to 15 years. The most severe punishment is for those who use their official positions to spread “false information” with “serious consequences”.
In recent days, the Russian authorities have imposed strict restrictions on the media regarding coverage of Russian troop movements in Ukraine.
Words like invasion and war are forbidden, among others. Instead, it should be referred to as «special military operation».
In addition, many liberal media outlets have been shut down in recent days, including the liberal radio channel Ekho Moskvy. According to the internet censorship monitoring service, the British BBC was blocked in Russia on Friday night.
Facebook and many other media outlets were also said to have been affected.
The State Duma also approved a bill allowing heavy fines to be imposed on anyone protesting military operations. If the law is violated twice in one year, the offender faces a heavier penalty according to the penal code, TASS writes.
Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets and demonstrated against the invasion of Ukraine over the past week.
On Saturday, more than 3,000 people were arrested in Russia for organizing demonstrations, according to OVD-Info, which tracks arrests made during demonstrations.
The National Assembly also decided that expressing support for imposing sanctions from Western countries is a criminal offence.
In the past week, Russia has been subjected to extensive and harsh sanctions from the West.
On Monday, the European Union imposed additional sanctions on a number of Russian oligarchs and others in the close circle of President Vladimir Putin. The US government also imposed new sanctions on the Russian oligarchs and their family members on Thursday.
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