Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely sign new legislation which will punish online media outlets for spreading “fake news” – or material that insults state officials, according to Bloomberg.
The new laws were passed by the upper house of parliament on Wednesday in a near-unanimous vote – which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said were “undoubtedly” necessary and “well thought-out.”
“One can hardly agree with the view that this is some sort of censorship,” suggested Peskov.
Under the new laws, prosecutors will be able to complain about online publications to the state communications watchdog, which can order access to the websites to be blocked if editors fail to remove the material promptly. Publications found guilty of spreading “unreliable socially-significant information” may face fines of as much as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000).
People will also face fines and up to 15 days in jail, as well as a ban on their publications, if they distribute material expressing “clear disrespect for society,…