Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law dubbed the “Fake News Act” which would allow journalists to be imprisoned for publishing news or claims that differ from the government’s perspective.
The dissenting reporters face the possibility of up to 15 years behind bars for reporting on war-related information deemed false by the state. Not only was the law signed by the Russian President, but it was also passed through both chambers of the nation’s Parliament.
As a result of this legislation, BBC and Bloomberg have suspended the work of their journalists and staff in Russia. CNN has stopped broadcasting in Russia altogether.
Director-General of BBC Tim Davie says that the law “criminalizes independent journalism”. It grants the government full control of the political narrative and eliminates exposure to perspectives that are critical of actions taken by the state.
“Our BBC News service in Russian will continue to operate from outside Russia,” Davie said, “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.”
It seems that Putin primarily wants to eliminate reports that allege Russia is having a difficult time in Ukraine. The Russian government also refuses to acknowledge the situation as a war or an invasion. Instead, they refer to it as a “special military operation” likely to avoid backlash from anti-war citizens.