Russian deputies validated, on Tuesday, a law providing for heavy sanctions to punish the “false information” on Moscow’s action abroad, a new repressive weapon in the Russian arsenal for controlling information on its offensive in Ukraine.
This text, adopted at third reading, punishes “public dissemination of knowingly false information under the guise of reliable information” about the “activities of Russian state bodies outside Russian territory”according to a press release from Parliament.
It provides for penalties of up to three years in prison, raised to five years if it is a group activity, a “abuse of official position”of a “artificial creation of evidence” or if the act is “motivated by political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or hostility”. The expected penalty increases to fifteen years in prison if the “false information” have “led to serious consequences”.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter banned
The bill, which still needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to enter into force, also includes penalties of up to five years in prison for “public actions aimed at discrediting the exercise of their powers by Russian state bodies outside the territory”.
Since the beginning of its offensive in Ukraine on February 24, Russia has banned many local and foreign media, as well as social networks Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The American group Meta was classified “extremist”. At least three people who had posted messages against the conflict on the Internet have already been prosecuted for this reason.