December 7, 2023


Russian lawmakers on Tuesday dramatically toughened “fake news” laws, in the Kremlin’s latest move to crack down on domestic dissent amid its ongoing war on Ukraine.

The new laws, approved by lawmakers in the state Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, threaten those who “knowingly” spread so-called false information about all Russian state bodies operating abroad with fines of 1.5 million rubles (around €13,000) and prison sentences of up to 15 years.

The new amendments add to existing legislation which criminalizes Russians who disseminate “false information” about the Russian army, and will now head to the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The laws will likely come into force ten days after this, according to legal rights group Net Freedoms Project.

The move, which affects discussion of the Russian Guard, Russian embassies, the Prosecutor’s office and other state, military, law enforcement and judicial bodies, comes during a wider Russian state clampdown on opposition amid broad Western condemnation of the war on Ukraine.

More than 15,000 Russians were detained between February 24 and March 20 for protesting against the lethal invasion of Ukraine, according to data from monitoring group OVD-Info.

The act approved by the Duma says those who spread information “with the artificial creation of evidence of the accusation … based on political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity” can receive a 10-year jail sentence, or up to 15 years if their actions cause “grave consequences.”


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