Moscow.- Russia on Friday blocked Facebook, restricted access to Twitter and introduced harsh prison terms for those who post “false information” about the military.in a new twist of the internal repression in the midst of the invasion of Ukraine.
The measures taken reinforce the arsenal of the authorities to control the narrative before the Russian population about the invasion of Ukrainelaunched on February 24 and presented as a limited operation that seeks to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians from “genocide.”
An amendment provides penalties of up to fifteen years in prison for those who spread information that tries to “discredit” the Russian armed forces.
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While another foresees sanctions for those “called to impose sanctions on Russia”, confronted with harsh retaliation from the West for the invasion of Ukraine.
These texts, which apply to both the media and individuals, came into force after their approval by the Russian Parliament and the ratification by President Vladimir Putin late at night.
The Russian newspaper Novaïa Gazeta said it was “forced to suppress numerous contents” to avoid sanctions, but indicated that it wanted to “continue working”.
While the Bloomberg News agency and the BBC (British public broadcaster) announced the suspension of the activity of their journalists in Russia, and the American CNN, the broadcasting of their programs.
The new law “seems to have been written to make every freelance journalist a criminal, by simple association, making it impossible to continue doing … journalism in the country,” said John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg.
The BBC will continue to report in Russian from abroad.
On Friday, media regulator Roskomnadzor ordered an immediate blockade of Facebook, accusing the social network of “discriminating” Russian media outlets such as the Defense Ministry television Zvezda and the Ria Novosti news agency.
The social network no longer worked in Russia without a VPN, which the American group confirmed, lamenting that “millions of ordinary Russians will soon be deprived of reliable information.”
The regulator also began “restricting access” to Twitter, but the platform told AFP “it does not see a significant difference for now” with the access difficulties it has been facing for a week.
The authority previously announced that it had restricted access to the BBC, Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), the independent Russian site Meduza (headquartered in Riga, Latvia), Radio Svoboda, also Russian, Voice of America and others. unnamed information sites.
The independent Internet television channel Dodj had already announced on Thursday the suspension of its activity, and the emblematic radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), its dissolution after the blocking of its sites.
“We are obliged to delete all radio accounts on social networks and dissolve our site,” its editor-in-chief, Alexeï Venediktov, declared on YouTube on Friday.
The Russian economic information site The Bell also said on Friday that it had decided to no longer cover the war in Ukraine, to protect its journalists from criminal sanctions.
The United States made known its “deep concern” at attacks on freedom of expression in Russia, through White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
These restrictions and closures come in a particularly tough year in Russia for the independent media, the political opposition and civil society.
Numerous publications and journalists have been labeled “foreign agents”, a category that forces them to carry out heavy administrative procedures, with the risk of being prosecuted by law for the slightest fault.
The main opponent of the Kremlin, Alexei Navalni, was arrested on his return to Russia, having survived a poisoning attempt. His movement was dismantled.
The Russian justice declared in December the closure of Memorial, an NGO that was a pillar of the defense of human rights and custodian of the memory of millions of victims of crimes in the Soviet Union. That decision was upheld after an appeal Monday.
On Friday, Memorial announced that a police operation was underway at its offices in Moscow, as was another non-governmental organization, “Civic Assistance”, focused on helping migrants.
According to a human rights observatory in Russia, OVD-Info, more than 8,000 people have been detained (mostly in Moscow and Saint Petersburg) since February 24 for demonstrating against the invasion of Ukraine.
Faced with the calls against the war, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, estimated this Friday that the time has come for the population to unite around President Putin: “This is not the time to divide us, it is the time to unite. And unite around our president,” he said.
Read more: https://www.debate.com.mx/FOTOS.-Protesters-se-unen-contra-Vladimir-Putin-con-creativas-pancartas-f202203040001.html
Valéri Fadeïev, president of the Human Rights Council before the Kremlin, for his part accused the foreign media of spreading false information about the conflict in Ukraine.
Group of Ukrainians go for a ride in a Russian war tank!
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