Russia’s new law that could imprison journalists for 15 years for writing what the government considers “fake news” has led multiple media outlets to pull their reporters out of Russia.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a new law that cracks down on what the Russian government sees as false information about the military. Anyone who calls for sanctions against the country could be punished as well, according to The Verge.
One example cited by The Washington Post is that the word “invasion” cannot be used in the context of the attack on Ukraine, with the government insisting it be called a “special military operation.”
“Literally by tomorrow, this law will force punishment — and very tough punishment — on those who lied and made statements which discredited our armed forces,” Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia’s State Duma legislature, said.
The law will allow Russia, which has already banned Facebook, to control what it knows about reverses and casualties in Ukraine.
Russian attack helicopter shot down over Ukraine by anti-aircraft missile pic.twitter.com/VWfqJlFI2s
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) March 5, 2022
“CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward,” CNN’s Brian Stelter quoted a CNN spokesman as saying.
Is the news media taking the easy way out?
“This legislation appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism,” BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement. “Our BBC News service in Russian will continue to operate from outside Russia. The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs.”
The BBC is now sending news to Russia via short-wave radio.
We are witnessing a genocide happening in real time, watching people get killed. Like many, I’m filled with rage and impotence. I don’t know what the answer is, but feels like the world should be doing more to help people of #Ukraine stop the advances of this demented murderer.🕊
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) March 5, 2022
“The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait wrote to his staff. “We will not do that to our reporters.”
Gulnoza Said, the coordinator for Europe and Central Asia programs for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the action reflects the extent to which revulsion over the invasion of Ukraine has impacted Russia, according to The Washington Post.
“Putin understands how high the stakes are in the invasion of Ukraine, and a big part of this war is the information war,” she said. “Once Russian officials saw the information war could be lost because of the activities of Russian-based outlets, I think they were outraged and decided to close them.”
Independent Russian journalists also felt the chill.
Breaking News: President Vladimir Putin likened Western sanctions on Russia to a “declaration of war” and threatened Ukraine with loss of its statehood if its leaders continued to resist his military invasion.
Follow live updates. https://t.co/EcRBCIaSdq
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 5, 2022
Ivan Kolpakov, editor in chief of Meduza, said the crackdown was expected.
“Our sources say they are likely to use this against journalists,” said Kolpakov, speaking from a location he would not disclose. “They can use it against journalists, and why wouldn’t they? They decided to destroy the industry entirely.”