Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a fake news law punishing those who spread it with up to 15 years in prison.
The new law could impose fines or jail terms for disseminating false information about the military, as well as fines to journalists who speak against Russia in any manner.
On Friday, BBC temporarily halted reporting in Russia, and by the end of the day, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Bloomberg News said their journalists in Russia stopped reporting.
CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in Russia, and other news outlets removed reports about Russia.
The bill is against “distorted” information
“It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff within the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development,” he said in a statement.
The Washington Post, Dow Jones and Reuters said they were evaluating the new fake news law and the situation.
Russia blocks Facebook, Twitter
According to Reuters, prior to the fake news bill, Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked Facebook, citing 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media. TASS news agency reported that Russia also restricted access to Twitter.
Roskomnadzor disputes death reports from external sources that exceed its own count and object to descriptions of the invasion of Ukraine as a war rather than a “special military operation.”
The Russian regulator also demanded that Wikipedia remove supposedly false reports of casualties among Russian military troops as well as Ukrainian civilians, including children, threatening to block it.
In a similar ban, Western governments and tech platforms have also banned the Russian news network RT, with the European Union accusing it of systematically spreading disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.