Putin creates new ‘fake news’ law to fund Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

By Isaac M February 14, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday that will allow authorities to confiscate money, valuables and other assets from people convicted of spreading “deliberately false information” about the country’s military.

The bill sailed through the lower and upper houses of the Russian parliament, and was unanimously endorsed by the upper house last week.

The speaker of the lower house, Vyacheslav Volodin, said the measure includes harsher punishment for “traitors who sling mud at our country and our troops” and would “strip those scoundrels of honorary titles, confiscate their assets, money and other valuables.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma lower house of parliament

(via REUTERS)

Russian officials have used the existing law against “discrediting” the military that covers offenses such as “justifying terrorism” and spreading “fake news” about the armed forces to silence Putin’s critics. Multiple activists, bloggers and ordinary Russians have received long prison terms.

The new confiscation law would also apply to those convicted of publicly inciting “extremist activities” and calling for actions harmful to state security or “discrediting” the armed forces. Discrediting the Russian military became a criminal offense under a law adopted as part of a sweeping government crackdown on dissent after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian state news agency Tass said that if someone is convicted under the new law, only money, assets and property “gained through criminal means” or used for activities against Russia‘s national security could be confiscated. Draconian Soviet-era legislation authorized the seizure of housing for a variety of criminal offenses.

It comes as Ukraine’s military said it used naval drones to sink a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea.The Caesar Kunikov amphibious ship sank near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, Ukraine’s General Staff said. It said the ship can carry 87 crew members.

Ukrainian forces destroy large Russian landing ship in Black Sea

(Ukrainian Armed Forces)

Sinking the vessel would be another embarrassing blow for the Russian Black Sea fleet and a significant success for Ukraine 10 days before the second anniversary of Russia‘s full-scale invasion.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the claim during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. He said questions should be addressed to the Russian military.

Ukraine has moved onto the defensive in the war, hindered by low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel, but has kept up its strikes behind the largely static 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line.

It is the second time in two weeks that Ukrainian forces have said they sank a Russian vessel in the Black Sea. Last week, they published a video that they said showed naval drones assaulting the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets.

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