Russia and Ukraine: Moscow blocks Facebook and approves punishing “false news” about its army with up to 15 years in prison

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also become a war for the dissemination of information about the conflict.

Thus, the Russian government announced this Friday that it will block the access of its citizens to Facebook platforms. The decision, according to the Kremlin, responds to the restrictions that the social network imposed on the profiles of its official media.

This happens on the same day that the country’s Parliament passed legislation imposing prison terms of up to 15 years those who “intentionally” spread “false” news about their army.

Russian media also reported that access to Twitter in the country was restricted. platform microblogging did not respond to a request for information from the BBC.

Although the use of Facebook had already been partially limited in Russia in recent days, access was not restricted throughout the country.

The Russian media regulator alleged that, since 2020, it has registered 26 cases of alleged “discrimination” against the information disseminated by its official media on Facebook.

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“Deprived of reliable information”

The President of Global Affairs of Facebook, Nick Cleggstated that “soon millions of Russians will be deprived of reliable information.”

Meta, the company that owns Facebook, announced last week that it had blocked Russian government-backed media across the European Union and curtailed the appearance of their content globally.

The company also has a policy of verifying the facts reported by the media. RussiaToday and Sputnik

“We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services, to keep them available and for people to safely express themselves and organize for action,” Clegg added.

Its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms continue to work.

Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Facebook.

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Nick Clegg is the President of Global Affairs for Facebook.

For its part, the US government said it was “deeply dismayed” at the Russian decision.

“This is part of their effort to cut off information from the public,” US Press Secretary Jen Psaki alleged.

Before, access to the BBC’s Internet pages was also blocked in Russian territory along with other international platforms such as the German Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Radio Libertad.

Instead, the British outlet decided to broadcast the World Service’s English-language news bulletins on the shortwave frequency in Ukraine and parts of Russia.

They penalize “false information” about the army

On the other hand, the Russian Parliament approved this Friday to toughen the Penal Code to punish with prison the dissemination of “false news” about the country’s army.

Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Lower House of the Russian Parliament

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Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Lower House of the Russian Parliament.

Specific, the law provides for sentences of up to 15 years if Russian officials believe that the information has had “serious” consequences for their military.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Lower House of the Russian Parliament, said the new measure “will force those who lied and made statements discrediting our Armed Forces to suffer a very severe punishment.” according to the Reuters news agency.

They also approved lesser penalties for those who call for sanctions against Russia.

The BBC said that would temporarily suspend the work of all its journalists and support staff in Russia after the approval of the law.

Other international media also suspended their work in the country such as CBS News, ABC News, CNN and Bloomberg.

Since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, the Russian media regulator has required the country’s media to use only official sources in their coverage.

Russia, through its official media, refers to the conflict as a “military operation” and rejects the terms “war” and “invasion”.

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