PUTIN SIGNS ‘FAKE NEWS’ LAW!
(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin signed laws punishing online media and individuals for spreading “fake news” or material that’s considered insulting to Russian officials. Prosecutors can now complain about online publications to the state communications watchdog, which has powers to block access to the websites if their owners fail to remove the material promptly. Publications found guilty of spreading “unreliable socially significant information” may face fines of as much as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000).
Individuals also face fines and up to 15 days in jail if they publish material online that expresses “clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation and bodies exercising state power.” The measures were attacked during their passage through parliament by the Presidential Human Rights Council, which warned of their potential use as methods of repression against critics of the authorities. Putin signed the legislation after thousands of people protested in Moscow earlier this month against Kremlin plans to establish a “Sovereign internet” that would route online traffic mostly through domestic servers and exchanges.