Russia steps up censorship with ‘false news’ law

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Then, on Friday, the government said it would block access to Russian-language media produced outside the country: the websites of Voice of America, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the famous media based in Latvia. Medouza. The reason: the systematic dissemination of what she called false information about “the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine”.

Russians will still be able to access blocked media through the popular messaging app Telegram, where many news outlets have their own channels. Some may also use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent restrictions.

The BBC announced on Friday that it was temporarily suspending all journalistic work in Russia in response to the law, although it would continue to operate its Russian-language site – which reached a record 10.7 million people last week – since outside the country.

“The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to put them at risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs,” BBC chief executive Tim Davie said in a statement.

Znak, an independent media outlet covering Russia’s regions, shut down its website on Friday, with a statement saying, “We are suspending our operations given the large number of new restrictions on media operations in Russia.”

And The Village, a digital lifestyle magazine that offered recommendations for shopping, restaurants and other activities in Moscow and St. Petersburg, moved its operations to Warsaw this week in response to its website being blocked. . The magazine also announced that, for fear of the new law, it was retroactively editing its articles to replace any mention of the word “war” with “special operation”.

Until recently, Russia’s mostly uncensored internet offered a way for Russians to voice their dissent and read stories outside of the Kremlin propaganda bubble that shrouds much of the news media. traditional in the country. But amid the war in Ukraine, which has sparked protests across the country and a wave of opposition from Russians online, the Kremlin appears to see the internet as a new threat.

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