Fears of censorship as Putin signs law against showing disrespect for authorities

Fears of censorship as Putin signs law against showing disrespect for authorities

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed controversial laws that allow courts to fine and briefly jail people for showing disrespect towards authorities, and block media for publishing “fake news”.

Mr Putin signed off on the legislation against the advice of human rights activists, who warned the laws amounted to censorship and would be abused to further crack down on freedom of speech.

The law on disrespecting authorities backs punishment for “offending state symbols” and stipulates hefty fines and jail terms of 15 days for repeat offenders.

Another piece of legislation allows authorities to decide what amounts to “fake news” and gives a media watchdog the power to demand an outlet delete the information.

Websites that fail to comply would be blocked.

Fines could reach 1.5 million rubles (£17,600) if the infraction leads to grave consequences such as death or rioting.

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