Social media users: "Scold the authorities, and you go to prison for disrespect. Praise them, and you go to jail for fake news."
Two new laws will come into force in Russia on 1 April, providing for criminal prosecution of individuals or organizations publishing “inaccurate and unreliable” information and “clear disrespect” for the authorities of the country.
Now, Russian prosecutors will have the right, without a court decision, to block any internet resources that, in their opinion, publish information that could “cause harm to society” – for example, information that could cause panic or riots.
The punishment for this violation will amount to between 50 and 1,500 euros, increasing with repeat violations.
The state media will not be subject to the new law.
“Clear disrespect” for the authorities
Internet resources publishing content that “expresses clear disrespect for society, the state, official symbols, the Constitution and government bodies” will be blocked.
The terms “indecent form”, “clear disrespect” and “inaccurate information” will be judged by prosecutors themselves, without court participation.
Violators will face a fine of 15 euros or a 15-day arrest.
The author of both laws was Andrei Klishas, a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament. In the past, he was the official responsible for the privatization of the largest Russian metallurgical plant – Norilsk Nickel, and then became the chairman of the board of directors of this enterprise.
Recently, the Anti-Corruption Foundation distributed information about Andrei Klishas’s assets – numerous land plots, mansions and a collection of watches worth more than a million euros. It was argued that many properties had not been declared, and are not properly taxed.
Experts and users of social media spoke about the new laws.
Maria Snegovaya, employee of the Centre for European Policy Analysis:
“The new law gives the prosecutor’s office extraordinarily broad powers and removes the already unfree Russian courts [from the process].”
Below is a meme being circulated on Russian social media:
“Scold the authorities, and you go to prison for disrespect. Praise them, and you go to jail for fake news.”