Russian lawmakers toughen legislation on foreign media amid Ukraine war

Russian lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation that will make it easier to shut down foreign media amid Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

The law also makes it easier to temporarily suspend the work of Russian media accused of spreading “dangerous” information and discrediting the country’s armed forces.

The legislation further piles pressure on foreign media still operating in the country.

The legislation gives the Prosecutor General’s office the right, “in the event of unfriendly actions of a foreign state against Russian media abroad, to promptly take a decision to ban or restrict the activities of media outlets of this country in Russia,” Russian parliament’s lower house said.

The legislation also allows prosecutors to suspend for up to three months the work of any Russian media accused of disseminating information considered dangerous, “lacking respect for society, the state, or the constitution” and discrediting the army.

If media outlets repeatedly violate the law they will be shut down, said the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine on February 24 has led to a further clampdown on freedom of speech and media in the country and sparked an exodus of foreign and independent Russian journalists.

Criticism of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine has essentially been banned in the country, and the words “war” and “invasion” outlawed.

In March, Russia passed into law prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading false information aimed at discrediting its military forces.

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