Now they will be punished for “discrediting” and “fake news” not only about the military, but also about Wagner PMC mercenaries. What is he threatening?


What happened?

The State Duma on the ban on “discrediting” and spreading “fakes” about volunteer formations, organizations and individuals providing “assistance in performing the tasks assigned to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation “. Corresponding changes were made to the articles of the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses, which were adopted in March 2022. Then the information about “discrediting” and “false” about the Russian military and government agencies was been subject to similar restrictions.

Now the law effectively protects all participants in the “special military operation,” as the Russian authorities officially call the war they have started against Ukraine.


And what kind of volunteer training?

These are also volunteer battalions, which began to be formed by the authorities of Russian regions after the invasion of Ukraine. And the formation of PMC Wagner, including representatives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation calls “Assault Squad Volunteers.”


Remind me, what’s the difference between “discrediting” and spreading “fake”?

Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation explain this difference as follows: “discredit” is the expression of a opinionsand in the distribution of “false” there must be some kind of statement about “knowingly false” do. Public calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops are also considered “discredited”.

For example, the publicly displayed inscription “no war” (or even “*** *****”) will be considered “discrediting”. A history about the killing of civilians by the Russian army in Bucha – the spreading of “fake news”.


Will the penalties remain the same?

Tougher penalties for some of the “crimes” covered by these articles. From 3 to 5 years, the maximum prison sentence for spreading “false” and “discredit” committed without aggravating circumstances has been increased. Thus, they were transferred to the category of moderate offenses.

“Discrediting” with will be punished with a prison term of up to seven years, not five, as before.

The maximum penalty for spreading fake news with aggravating circumstances remains the same:

  • up to 10 years in prison for the artificial creation of “fakes” (and not only their dissemination), selfish motives, motives of political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred, the use of an official position or the dissemination of “fakes” by a group of people;
  • up to 15 years in prison if the crime resulted in .

The penalty for “discrediting” as an administrative offense remains the same: a fine ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 rubles or a fine from 50,000 to 100,000 rubles.

Increased fine for “discredit”

  • accompanied by calls for unauthorized public events;
  • create a threat of harm to the life and health of citizens;
  • create a threat of massive violation of public order and public security;
  • creating a threat of interference with the operation or cessation of operation of life support facilities, transportation or social infrastructure, credit organizations, energy, industrial or communication facilities.


In which cases is “discredit” a “crime”, and in which cases is it an administrative offence?

For the first time, “discrediting” which did not result in the death of a person or which was not accompanied by massive violations of public order is considered an administrative offence. The repeated commission of the same actions during the year will be considered a criminal offence.


Are they often already punished for “false” and “discredit”?

For the whole of 2022, the public prosecutor’s office registered 187 crimes under the article on spreading “fake news”. At the end of last year, according to Mediazona estimates, Russian courts received more than 5.5 thousand protocols on administrative offenses for “discredit”. In the fall of 2022, according to the Ministry of the Interiormore than 100 criminal proceedings have been initiated for “discrediting” the army.

IN database OVD-Info has information on 148 defendants in criminal cases on spreading “fake news” and 60 defendants in criminal cases on “discrediting”. For example, publicist Alexander Nevzorov was sentenced in absentia to eight years for “false” – dissemination “knowingly false information on the deliberate shelling by the armed forces of the Russian Federation of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol.

Politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for broadcasting about the killing of civilians in Bucha. Aleksey Moskalev, the father of the girl who drew the anti-war cartoon, is under house arrest and is accused of repeatedly “discrediting” the military. The first time he was fined was in April 2022 for an anti-war comment on Odnoklassniki.

Denis Dmitriev

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