Russia’s parliament on Friday passed a law imposing imprisonment
of up to 15 years for spreading “fake” information about the armed forces as
Russia fights back in what it calls an information war over the conflict in

Russian officials have repeatedly said that false information
has been intentionally spread by Moscow’s enemies such as the United States and
its Western European allies in an attempt to create disharmony among the
Russian people, according to a Reuters report.

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The law “concerns all citizens, not only Russian ones
because we are talking about actions against Russia,” said Alexander
Khinshtein, Head of the parliament’s information committee.

“All these IT companies beginning with Instagram, and
ending with the others, are based in the United States of America. They are
used as weapons. They carry hatred and lies. We need to oppose this,” he

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The lawmakers passed amendments to the criminal code making the
spread of “fake” information a criminal offence with fines or jail terms. The
new legislation also sets out terms for people calling for sanctions against
Russia with jail terms.

The lower house of Russian parliament ‘Duma’ in a statement said
“If the fakes lead to serious consequences then the imprisonment of up to
15 years threatens.”

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The Duma highlights punishments for anyone deemed to have
discredited the armed forces, with harsher penalties for those who
intentionally spread fake information or called for unsanctioned public action.

The amendments are yet to be approved by the upper house of
parliament before going to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law, as per the Reuters

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On Friday, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it has
restricted access to the BBC’s Russian-language websites and other independent
media websites for spreading what it castes as false information about the
Ukraine conflict.

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Russian media outlets have been ordered to only publish
information from government sources and must describe the situation in Ukraine
as a “special military operation.” Roskomnadzor also banned the use of words
“war” and “invasion.”