Under a law passed Russia’s parliament Friday, journalists who categorize the invasion of Ukraine as a “war,” or report on Kremlin military setbacks and civilian deaths would face three years in prison. The punishment could rise to 15 years behind bars for cases that led to “severe consequences.”
Russia also blocked access to Facebook and Twitter Friday.
The censorship bill “will force those who lied and made statements discrediting our armed forces to bear very grave punishment,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, said.
“I want everyone to understand, and for society to understand, that we are doing this to protect our soldiers and officers, and to protect the truth.”
Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday the move showed desperation by Putin, who is said to be holed up in the Ural Mountains, fuming at the resistance his army is facing in Ukraine — and at home.
“Obviously Putin is shutting these people down because he is afraid. He wouldn’t be shutting them down if everything was going peachy keen,” McFaul said during a call with reporters and experts hosted by Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. “This is an indicator of his state of mind.”
Russia had continued to falsely claim it is on a “special military operation” to prevent “genocide” of nationalists in the Donbas region, and has been calling reports on the invasion “fake news.”