Russian regulator warns local media over Ukraine war coverage | Russian-Ukrainian crisis

Russia’s communications regulator has ordered the country’s media to remove reports describing the ongoing attack on Ukraine as “aggression, invasion or declaration of war” – or risk being blocked and fined.

In a statement on Saturday, Roskomnadzor accused several independent media of spreading “false and socially unreliable information” about the bombing of Ukrainian cities by the Russian army and the death of civilians.

Among the warning letters sent were Echo Moskvy, a popular radio station, and Novaya Gazeta, the country’s leading independent newspaper whose editor Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Citing a request from the attorney general’s office, the regulator said media outlets, including independent TV channel Dozhd, will be blocked unless they remove “unreliable information”.

“Roskomnadzor has also launched an administrative investigation into the dissemination of unreliable information of public importance by the aforementioned media,” the watchdog said, adding that the offense is punishable by a fine of up to five. million rubles ($60,000).

Roskomnadzor also said that “reliable information” could be found in “Russian official news outlets”.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion in the early hours of Thursday, calling it a “special military operation” aimed at defending Russian-backed separatists in the east and demilitarizing and “denazifying” Ukraine. Russian troops headed for Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on Saturday after a night of explosions and street fighting that sent residents seeking refuge underground.

In Russia, anti-war protests resumed Friday in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities, though they appeared smaller than those on Thursday, when thousands of people took to the streets across the country.

Rights group OVD-Info reported that 1,820 protesters were arrested in 58 Russian cities on Thursday evening, including 1,002 in Moscow. He said on Saturday that at least 2,490 people had been arrested.

Separately, Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov sharply criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, calling President Vladimir Putin a “dictator” and urging world leaders to “follow the money” to stop it.

Meanwhile, Elena Chernenko, a journalist with the Kommersant daily, said she was expelled from the Foreign Ministry pool because of an open letter condemning the attack on Ukraine which was signed by nearly 300 journalists. Chernenko said on the Telegram messaging app that the ministry cited her “lack of professionalism” and she urged officials not to retaliate against journalists who signed the letter.

“Apparently now is the time,” Chernenko wrote of the ban.

Another struggling journalist was Yury Dud. Like many others on Thursday, Dud, a vocal Kremlin critic who runs one of Russia’s most popular YouTube blogs, wrote an elaborate social media post decrying the invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, an influential Kremlin-backed internet watchdog group, the Safe Internet League, filed a request with the Attorney General’s Office and the Justice Department to consider labeling Dud a ‘foreign agent’ – a designation crippling that involves additional governmental scrutiny and strong derogatory connotations that would discredit it.

Popular public broadcaster Channel One has announced that it is replacing entertainment programming on its schedule with news and political programming “due to the current situation”. Among those dropped was a late-night show hosted by popular comedian, Ivan Urgant, who spoke out against the invasion on Instagram.

Spokespersons for the channel insisted the decision to remove Urgant’s show from the schedule had nothing to do with its Instagram post.

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