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Russian parliament passes law to punish journalists for ‘fake’ news

Russia’s parliament on Friday passed a law that makes publishing “fake” news a crime, according to multiple reports.

If enacted, the law would punish any journalist who contradicts Moscow’s official statements on the war in Ukraine with punishments resulting in up to 15 years in prison, according to The Washington Post.

Under the new law, journalists must verify their reports on the invasion of Ukraine with official Russian government sources.

The law prohibits the words “war,” “invasion,” and “attacks” from publication, according to the Post, as the Kremlin assures the Russian people that it is doing everything in its power to avoid civilian deaths, which runs counter to many social media videos from Ukraine showing the shelling of civilian areas. 

The law comes as Moscow has also restricted access to several international news outlets, such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

In addition to penalizing journalists who publish prohibited content, individuals could also face criminal charges for reposting content on social media that does not follow the Kremlin’s guidelines on depicting the war, reports the Post.

A litany of Russian media has shut down as the invasion of Ukraine has pressed on.

Znak and The Village shut their offices as of Friday, as has the television station Dozhd, which signed off its final broadcast with the words: “No war,” right before playing “Swan Lake,” which is what played in 1991 on Soviet-controlled TV before a thwarted coup attempt that was a catalyst to the end of the Soviet Union, reports the Post.

Many journalists from independent news outlets have fled the country in fear of Moscow’s retributions, as this law is likely to be signed into law by Putin on Saturday, according to the Post.

Tags BBC Censorship deutsche welle International reactions to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine Kremlin Kremlin Moscow Post-Soviet conflicts Russia Russian invasion of Ukraine social media content Television The Washington Post Ukraine Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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