Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed new legislation banning "fake news" and making it illegal to "disrespect" the government online into law in Russia. The legislation says fines of up to 1.5 million rubles, or about $23,000, can be imposed for spreading "unreliable socially significant information." It also bans exhibiting "blatant disrespect" online for Russia or its "authorities, the public, the Russian flag or the constitution." Showing "blatant disrespect" can result in fines or jail time. Under the bill, a state media watchdog can block websites that will not remove material determined to be in violation of the law. Critics fear, The Straits Times reports, that the legislation "is vaguely worded and would have large scope for abuse," allowing Russian officials to easily silence critics.
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