Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws establishing liability for “discrediting” and “fake news” against volunteers and mercenaries participating in hostilities in Ukraine.
Now the norms, in addition to the military and authorities, will apply to “volunteer formations, organizations or individuals” that provide “assistance in the performance of the tasks assigned to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
“Discrediting” volunteers and mercenaries, committed for the first time, will be considered an administrative offense and punishable by a fine of up to 50,000 rubles for citizens, up to 200,000 for officials, and up to 500,000 for legal entities.
Repeated “discrediting” would be a criminal offense with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison if aggravated. The same maximum punishment is provided for “fakes”.
Initially, liability for “discrediting” and “fake news” extended only to public statements about the Russian army. Later, the relevant laws were extended to other authorities.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner PMC, proposed to the State Duma in January 2023 to ban “public actions aimed at discrediting volunteers, including former prisoners.” Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin promised to consider the issue “as a matter of urgency.” The deputies adopted the law on March 14.