Russia’s New Law Will Jail Journalists For “Fake News”

In a landmark decision, Russia’s national assembly on Friday passed legislation that could result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years for publishing purposefully “false” material about the military.

This is ratcheting up the country’s disinformation campaign regarding the Ukraine crisis.

The US and its allies in Western Europe, according to Russian officials, have been spreading counterfeit information in an endeavor to instigate dissension among the Russian people.

Members of Congress voted for revisions to the penal law that made the dissemination of “false” information an offense punishable by fines or prison sentences.

They also levied fines on anyone who made public appeals for sanctions to be imposed against Russia.

“If the forgeries have major implications, the possibility of jail for up to 15 years exists,” the lower house, called the Duma in Russian, said during a statement Wednesday.

For those found to have disgraced the armed forces, the Duma defined a scale of punishments.  There are higher penalties for those who willfully propagated false information or advocated for unconstitutional public demonstrations.

Russian Government Has More Power

The modifications, which could not be accessed by reporters on the Duma website, actually give the Russian government significantly greater authority to crack down on dissenting voices.

“This law will exact retribution – and very harsh punishment – on those who misled and made remarks that brought our military services into disrepute, literally by tomorrow,” Parliament Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin stated.

In response to the United States’ expansion of its NATO military alliance onto Russian territory and support for pro-Western officials in Kyiv, Putin declared a “special military campaign” was necessary to safeguard Russian security.

Neither Russia nor Western media have reported on what they describe as a “mass slaughter” of Russian-speaking individuals in Ukraine, according to Russian officials, who do not use the phrase “invasion.”

Process of Legislation in Russia

To become legislation, the amendments must be accepted by the upper chamber of parliament before they can be presented to Putin for signature.

Putin ordered the operation, prompting Russian opposition leaders to fear the Kremlin may retaliate by cracking down on dissent.

Several foreign news organizations’ websites, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle, were also blocked by Russia’s communications watchdog. The watchdog claimed they were spreading false information about the country’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

According to the watchdog, known as Roskomnadzor, “access to a large number of information resources controlled by foreigners has been prohibited.”

As Russia has repeatedly protested, western media organizations present a skewed and sometimes anti-Russian vision of the world, while struggling to hold their own elected officials accountable for overseas conflicts, such as Iraq and corruption on the domestic level.

The BBC in the United Kingdom said access to actual facts was a basic human right and it would continue to make its information available in Russia.