If Ukraine receives weapons, Russia warns the US and NATO of
If Ukraine receives weapons, Russia warns the US and NATO of "unpredictable repercussions"
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On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up his attack on media outlets and individuals who do not follow the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, barring Facebook and Twitter and signing a bill criminalising the deliberate dissemination of what Moscow considers to be “fake” news.

Blockades on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and Latvia-based website Meduza preceded the actions against the social media behemoths. The government’s broad campaign against international news organisations that publish in Russian aims to tighten controls even more on what information the local audience gets about the invasion of Ukraine.

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According to Roskomnadzor, the state communications watchdog, access to Twitter and Facebook has been restricted due to a decision by the prosecutor general’s office. Twitter was previously accused by the watchdog of neglecting to erase content that had been blocked by Russian authorities and of slowing access to it.

While Twitter is “aware of rumours” that its platform is restricted in Russia, it has not been able to confirm whether this is the case, according to a statement released Friday afternoon.

The bill, which was rapidly passed by both chambers of Russia’s Kremlin-controlled parliament and signed by Putin, mandates prison penalties of up to 15 years for individuals distributing material that contradicts the Russian government’s war narrative.

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According to former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, the question with Russia is no longer “what we do to counter disinformation.” “The question is how can we promote information within Russia, and I don’t have an answer.”

Several news organisations have announced that they will take a break from reporting in Russia to assess the situation. CNN, for example, has said that it would cease broadcasting in Russia, while Bloomberg and the BBC have announced that their correspondents’ work in Russia will be temporarily halted.

Reports of Russian military failures or civilian casualties in Ukraine have been labelled “fake” news by Russian authorities on several occasions. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is referred to as a “special military operation” rather than a war or invasion by state media agencies.

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The proposal “would require individuals who misled and made statements denigrating our armed forces to undergo very terrible penalties,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Roskomnadzor cited “discrimination” against Russian media and governmental information resources as a reason for barring Facebook. The limits imposed by Facebook owner Meta on the Russian news outlet RT and other state-controlled media, according to the agency, are illegal under Russian legislation.

According to Roskomnadzor, those media outlets disseminated “false information” on “the methods of carrying out combat activities (assaults on civilians, strikes on public infrastructure), the number of casualties suffered by the Russian Federation Armed Forces, and civilian victims.”

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“Our employees’ safety is vital, and we will not put them in jeopardy merely for doing their duties,” he stated.

The BBC’s Russian-language news service, according to Davie, will continue to function from a location outside of Russia.

The BBC had issued instructions on Twitter earlier in the day about how Russian readers may get around the block by utilising apps or the “black web.”

The BBC said earlier this week that shortwave radio broadcasting would be restored to Ukraine and portions of Russia, allowing listeners to listen to its broadcasts using simple equipment.

Rather than face severe limits on what they can cover, some well-known Russian media outlets have chosen to shut down. The news website Znak announced that it will be shutting down on Friday morning, just after the draught measure was adopted by the parliament. After receiving a threat of shutdown from the government, Russia’s top independent radio station, Ekho Moskvy, was shut down on Thursday, and independent TV station Dozdh halted operations.

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Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most well-known human rights organisations, was searched by authorities. Police did not provide an explanation or provide any warnings, according to Memorial members.

Civic Assistance, another prominent human rights organisation, was also raided in Moscow.