Russia resists information war with prison warning

  • Russia to impose prison terms and fines for fake news
  • Those who lied will be punished – the Speaker of the State Duma
  • Russia restricts access to the BBC and other news sites
  • BBC: Access to accurate information is a human right
  • Russia says it is fighting an information war

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s parliament on Friday passed a law imposing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for deliberately spreading “false” news about the military, escalating the information war over the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly said that false information has been spread by enemies of Russia such as the United States and its allies in Western Europe in an attempt to sow discord among the Russian people.

Lawmakers have passed amendments to the criminal code that make the dissemination of “false” information a crime punishable by fines or imprisonment. They also imposed fines for public calls for sanctions against Russia.

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“If the fraud leads to serious consequences, imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens,” the lower house of parliament, known as the Duma in Russian, said in a statement.

The State Duma has set a scope for penalties for anyone believed to have offended the credibility of the armed forces, with heavier penalties for those who willfully disseminate false information or advocate unauthorized public actions.

The amendments, which Reuters was unable to see on the Duma website, appear to give the Russian state much stronger powers of repression.

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“By tomorrow, this law will impose punishment – and very severe punishment – on those who lied and made statements that discredited our armed forces,” State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a “special military operation” was necessary to ensure Russia’s security after the United States expanded the NATO military alliance to Russia’s borders and backed pro-Western leaders in Kyiv.

Russian lawmakers attend a session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia on March 4, 2022. Russia’s State Duma / Posted via Reuters Attention Editors – This photo was provided by a third party. There are no reviews. not archive. Compulsory credit.

Russian officials do not use the word “invasion” and say the Western media have failed to report on what they describe as a “genocide” of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.

The amendments must be approved by the upper house of parliament before going to Putin to be signed into law.

“cruel punishment”

Russian opposition leaders have warned that the Kremlin may crack down on the opposition after Putin ordered the operation.

Russia’s communications watchdog also cut off access to several foreign news organizations’ websites, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle, for spreading what it claimed was false information about its war in Ukraine.

“Access is restricted to a range of foreign-owned information sources,” the organization known as Roskomnadzor said in a statement. Read more

Russia has repeatedly complained that Western media organizations provide a partial – and often anti-Russian – view of the world while failing to hold their leaders accountable for foreign wars such as Iraq and corruption.

The BBC said that access to accurate information is a basic human right and will continue its efforts to make its news available in Russia.

Reporting by the Moscow Office, Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Simon Cameron Moore and Angus McSwan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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