Press freedom crackdown drives media exodus from Russia – EURACTIV.com

Russia’s controversial new media law is prompting several international media outlets to suspend their operations in the country. EURACTIV Germany reports.

According to the new law, spreading so-called “false information” about the war in Ukraine is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The American media Bloomberg took the first step by announcing on Friday that it was stopping its reporting from Russia. Britain’s BBC and US broadcaster CNN soon followed suit.

German media have also decided to limit their reporting from the country. The ARD and ZDF news channels are examining the consequences of the law passed on Friday and are suspending reporting from their Moscow studios for the time being.

The two public broadcasters will continue to provide the public with comprehensive information on events in Russia and Ukraine from their other sites, they said in a statement released on Saturday March 5.

A controversial media law

In the background, the controversial law on the media adopted by the Russian State Duma on Friday March 4.

According to this law, the dissemination of so-called “false information” about the Russian armed forces is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, with deviations from official Kremlin statements already being labeled as “false information”. .

Using the term “war” regarding the conflict in Ukraine, for example, is illegal because it is considered a “military operation” to “ensure peace” according to the official Kremlin narrative.

The same applies to the number of victims, which according to figures from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is considerably higher than that provided by the Kremlin. However, their dissemination is now also prohibited by law.

Russian media has also come under increasing pressure since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Several media houses that deviated from the official Russian position, for example, were shut down for their critical reporting in the days after the invasion began.

Social media has also been subject to an increasing number of restrictions. On Friday March 4, the Kremlin announced that it would block social media platforms Facebook and Twitter in the country after they both repeatedly refused to remove information critical of Moscow.

Russia at war with independent media

As the war in Ukraine continues, Russia has intensified its efforts to restrict the availability of information, targeting independent reporting on both sides of the border.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/ Alice Taylor]

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