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Russia moves to ban ‘fake news’ and ‘indecent’ state criticism

Russia moved to punish media outlets with fines and even imprisonment for publishing fake news or information showing disrespect to government bodies and officials.

Prosecutors would be able to block websites without court orders, while publications found guilty of spreading unreliable socially significant information would face fines of as much as $15,000 under a measure passed Thursday by the lower house of Parliament.

A second law threatens people with up to 15 days in jail, as well as a ban on their publications, if they distribute “material expressing in indecent form a clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and bodies exercising state power.’’

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The Kremlin supports the draft laws, which may be refined in later readings, said Garry Minkh, President Vladimir Putin’s representative to Parliament, the state-run Tass news service reported.

The proposals should be revised to eliminate the legal uncertainty that may lead to arbitrary enforcement, the Kremlin’s human rights council said on its website.

BLOOMBERG NEWS