Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed “laws punishing online media and individuals for spreading ‘fake news,’ or material that’s considered insulting to Russian Officials,” Bloomberg reported on Monday.
According to The Moscow Times, the “legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that, “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.””
The Russian News Agency (TASS) explains that the new laws allows the Prosecutor General or “his deputies,” the ability to demand the removal of on-line content found to violate the new laws or, “if it fails to be eliminated, to restrict access to the information resources that distribute it.”
Reuters reports that under the new law, “individuals can be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,100) for circulating false information online that leads to a “mass violation of public order”.
The article goes on to say repeat offenders who for example insult the Russian flag, can be jailed for up to 15 days.
Bloomberg reports the laws faced criticism “during their passage,” from the Presidential Human Rights Council, which warned the news laws could create state censorship, but lawmakers dismissed the warnings saying that the new laws are needed to combat ‘fake news,’ and online comments that are abusive.