Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new law allowing the punishment of individuals and online media for the dissemination of what Russia calls "false news" and information that "disregards" the state.
The new regulations allow prosecutors to file complaints against material that is considered offensive to Russian officials to the government, which can then block websites that publish the information. Publications that repeatedly propagate "unreliable" information that undermines social order can be fined up to $ 23,000, and repeat offenders may spend time in jail, according to Washington Post.
The laws are aimed at online information that represents "clear disrespect for society, government, state symbols, the constitution, and government institutions."
The Moscow Times reports,
"Online news magazines and users who distribute fakes news" will be faced with fines of up to 1.5 million rubles ($ 22,900), offensive state symbols and for recurrent offenses The authorities, including Putin, are given up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in prison for repeat offenses. Other Russian laws charge fines based on whether the perpetrator is a citizen, an official or a legal person: more than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition against the Russian Federation that they described as "direct censorship."
Last week, the Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on critics of the regulations.
"It's hard to believe that this is a kind of censorship," Peskov told Russian state media. "This sphere – the sphere of fake news – insults, etc. is tightly regulated in many countries of the world, even in European countries, and this must undoubtedly happen in our country."
Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center, told NPR that the new laws in Russia are "politically significant" because the Internet has remained a relatively open space for political commentary, even against the regime, even as state media and all other media. Be it in print or television or radio, the state has largely closed in the last 20 years. "
He says some factions in the Russian government have pushed for more restrictions." The idea that there should be a Russian Internet is very practical for those whose main objective is to control it. Here you come to the Siloviki, the security apparatus of Russia, including the older KGB organizations, which were initially inconvenient with the idea that the Russians were completely connected to a global information space that they believed was a tool of the United States, "said Rojansky.
The Moscow Times reports: "Stricter Internet laws introduced over the last five years require search engines to erase some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to support Internet security personal data of users to store data on servers within the country. "