Why Russia wants more censorship
This week a draft law was presented to the Russian Duma that would make derogatory statements about the state and its representatives and the deliberate spreading of socially relevant fake news punishable offences. Russian commentators discuss what goals the government is pursuing with this legislation.
Yellow vests making Putin nervous
Radio Kommersant FM sees good reasons for the package of measures:
“The riots in Paris have not gone unnoticed by the authorities in Russia. The first signal came last week with the TV programme 'Weekly News', in which the yellow vest protests were portrayed as a kind of 'colour revolution' originating in the US. ... The French protests are making the Russian government nervous because inevitably parallels will be drawn. And precisely that is to be avoided. Particularly since the rise in VAT comes into effect in the new year and it's unclear whether fuel prices will remain stable. Against this backdrop administrating the next portion of protest-prevention can't hurt.”
A practical instrument of oppression
For Vedomosti the draft law poses a real threat to the freedom of the press and free speech:
“This amendment can be used as a practical instrument for oppressing independent publications and researchers. ... The prospect of being punished for making statements the authorities don't like is a flagrant violation of the European principle of freedom of expression. ... It's unclear how one can distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable criticism. It will take a host of legal experts to clear that up. The proposal as such underscores the authorities' desire to build up a system in which a sect of people who 'profess their faith in the state' will believe that anything they take offence at can be legally punished.”