New "Iron Curtain" of Russia's information policy

Author : Pavlo Horin

Source : 112 Ukraine

Russia imposes $140 thousand fines for sharing information on state socio-economic situation, which has not been officially released by the federal bodies
14:54, 22 December 2015

The journalists of The Wall Street Journal concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin is convinced that the isolation of Russia will cease under guise of fighting against terrorism. American reporters made this assumption after analyzing the recent G20 summit rhetoric. When the U.S. Secretary John Kerry visited Moscow and stated that Washington was not pursuing a policy of Russia’s isolation, it became another vivid corroboration of the fact.

At the same time, Russia seems to “turn a deaf ear” and take all the possible measures to oppose the West, including the informational opposition.

The U.S. and some EU countries are pursuing anti-Russian information policy across wide areas that border with the Russian Federation. Against this backdrop, Moscow has decided to tighten control over its own information space.

Russia is afraid of leakage of information, which confirms the rapid decline of the Russian economy and domestic political instability. October 30, the Committee on Property of the State Duma introduced the draft amendments to the Federal Law "On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information". The bill provides ban on the materials, which have not been widely introduced to the public. Only a special federal body will give permissions on sharing this kind of data. Pursuant to the novelties, there shall be administrative liability for violations the information policy rules.

Related: Russia spends $1,4 bln-a-year on propaganda – the US Department of State

As a consequence, any information on the status of Russia’s socio-political and socio-economic situation, which has not been officially released by the state bodies and means of authorized information and telecommunication systems, requires the prior approval of a government federal agency. The amendments also stipulate penalties for disclosing information connected with the professional duties; the fine ranges from RUB 500 to 1000 ($7-14). An ordinary Russian will pay a RUB 50-100 thousand fine ($700-1400) for providing information to a foreign party without prior permission from the state. For the same “guilt” an official will be fortified with RUB 600 thousand up to 1 mln ($ 8-14 thousand) and a legal entity - from RUB 1 to 10 mln ($14-140 thousand). First and foremost, this kind of legislative initiative will affect the interests of Russian business, public sector, and ordinary citizens.

Those convicted of crimes against the constitutional order, public security and public safety are not allowed to establish the media. The work of foreign broadcasting will be also changed: if they are seen to abuse the freedom of mass media or perform some extremist activity, they will be refused in the spread on Russian territory.

The amendments have been approved by the Government Commission on legislative activities. Adoption of this law means that the media will be orchestrate by a special state body, which will force to adapt the broadcast version of the events to the state-controlled information resources.

These changes will affect the interests of the Russian opposition political parties and public associations engaged in the exchange of information with foreign partners and donor agencies. At the same time, their ability to make the facts of abuse of power corruption public will be limited significantly.

As a result of information exchange restrictions, hypertrophied business contacts of Russian firms with their Western partners, show signs of unravelling. Isolation of the information space from the outer world abets the collapse of democracy, and Russia’s desire to go back in the Soviet Union and the "Iron Curtain" becomes more and more evident. 

Related: EU fights against Russian propaganda in Ukraine

Related: Russia created the new doctrine of information security

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