The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"Russian Censorship: How 'Fake News' Law Led to Collapse of Independent Journalism"


An interesting (and quite detailed) article Tuesday in PressGazette (Alfie Davis), an English publication focused on the media; here's a short excerpt:

A change to the Russian Criminal Code, which criminalises the dissemination of "false information" about the Russian military, was passed in March—eight days after the invasion of Ukraine.

Under the law, journalists must comply with official military descriptions of the conflict describing it not as a "war" but a "special military operation."

Those deemed to have abused their "official position"—including journalists—by passing "deliberately false information" off as "reliable reports" face a ₽3m (£20,600) to ₽5m (£34,000) fine, ten years in prison or compulsory labour. Should these supposed falsehoods be about the Russian military, jail time rises to a maximum of 15 years.

Since the law was passed, more than 30 independent Russian media outlets have been forced to shut down including Meduza, The Moscow Times, TV Rain, Znack and The Bell.

Leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, edited by 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, suspended operations following repeated warnings from Roskomnadzor, the Russian media regulator, while Echo of Moscow, one of Russia's few independent radio stations, was taken off air during prime time.