New Russian Laws Create Mechanism For Censorship
President Vladimir Putin has signed into law tough new fines for Russians who spread what the authorities regard as fake news or who show 'blatant disrespect' for the state online, an official portal for legal information showed on Monday.
Critics have warned that the legislation could create a mechanism for state censorship, but lawmakers say the new measures are needed to combat false news reports and abusive online comments.
The legislation grants authorities the power to block websites if they fail to comply with requests to remove information that the state deems to be factually inaccurate.
New censorship laws came on the same day that President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea.
Under the new law, individuals can be fined up to 400,000 roubles ($6,100) for circulating false information online that leads to a 'mass violation of public order.'
People who show 'blatant disrespect' online for the state, the authorities, the public, the Russian flag or the constitution can be fined up to 100,000 roubles under the new legislation. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to 15 days.
The president led thousands to chant 'Russia' at the event, as Nato and the European Union again strongly condemned the land grab by Russia.
Speaking at an outdoor concert in Crimea's regional capital of Simferopol, the Russian president hailed Crimea's residents, likening them to the Red Army soldiers of the Second World War.
'Russia has taken you into its fold with delight and joy,' he told the crowd. 'We will fulfill all of our goals ... because we are together now.'
He began his trip by attending the launch of new power plants in Crimea, part of Moscow's efforts to upgrade the region's infrastructure.
The Ukraine has cut off energy supplies to the peninsula and blocked shipments of Crimea-bound cargo via its territory after Moscow annexed the region in 2014.
'The situation has changed radically,' Mr. Putin said, adding that the new power facilities will fully cover Crimea's energy needs.
Russia's modernization effort for Crimea has included building an 11.8-mile bridge that opened last year across the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The 3.6 billion dollars project gave Crimea a land link to Russia. Previously, a ferry crossing that was often interrupted by gales served as the only connection.
Mr Putin claims Russia 're-integrated' Crimea after the removal of Ukraine's former pro-Russian president in 2014 to protect ethnic Russians who made up the majority of Crimea's population from Ukrainian nationalists.
The Kremlin was also worried that a new Ukrainian government could annul Russia's lease on its key Black Sea navy base in Crimea and welcome Nato there instead.
The Russian leader has said he put Russia's nuclear forces on combat readiness during the 2014 developments in Crimea and warned his Western counterparts that Moscow was ready to defend what it considered its land.
The annexation gave Russia hundreds of miles of coastline along the Black Sea, a near-stranglehold on commerce in the Sea of Azov and access to vast potential energy riches on the Black Sea shelf.
Date Posted: Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 , Total Page Views: 384