Putin approves new media restrictions ahead of presidential election | News of war between Russia and Ukraine

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The media is barred from reporting on the activities of a constituency at military bases or areas under martial law without permission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved changes to a law that will ban media coverage of next year’s presidential election, according to local news agencies.

The elections are expected to be held in March. The 71-year-old president, who has led the country for 24 years, is expected to stand for another six-year term. Putin has not officially announced he will run, saying he will announce only after parliament formally sets the election date.

The changes that Putin greenlit limited the coverage of Central Election Commission sessions to registered media outlets, which could exclude freelancers or independent journalists, according to reports on Tuesday.

The amendments prohibit the media from reporting on the commission’s activities at military bases or in areas under martial law without prior permission from regional and military authorities.

They also prohibit the publication of any campaign content on “closed sources”, referring to restricted websites and social media services.

Under an intense crackdown on the front and the flow of information, Russia has blocked several websites and services, including Facebook and Instagram.

To implement this ban, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media also plans to ban some virtual private networks (VPNs) that are widely used by Russians to bypass Internet restrictions. .

The state news agency RIA quoted the ministry on Sunday as saying that it may ban some “VPN services and VPN protocols” that a commission of experts recognizes as “dangerous”.

Crack tightening

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it has suppressed independent and dissident media voices, watchdogs have said.

Hundreds of journalists have gone into exile as state censors have shut down many reputable independent media outlets and launched criminal proceedings against prominent regional journalists and bloggers.

“After Russian tanks entered Ukraine, the authorities turned to a scorched earth strategy that has turned Russia’s media landscape into a desert,” said Amnesty International’s director for the east of Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers, in March 2022.

Russian polling agencies have found that Putin’s approval rating remains high – even up to 82 percent in October. It seems easy to win if he runs for re-election.

Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I have no doubt that if he puts forward his bid, he will win confidently.”

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