For journalists and media outlets operating in Russia, the introduction of amendments to the country’s criminal and administrative codes in March 2022 marked the beginning of a new and dangerous era. The amendments provided for fines of up to 5 million rubles (US$48,245) and prison terms of up to 15 years for those convicted of disseminating “fake news” or any information that Russian authorities deemed to be false, on the war-related coverage, posing a serious threat to coverage of the crisis in Ukraine. Scores of Russian journalists felt they had no choice, but to flee the country for their own safety and many of the country’s best-known independent outlets relocated their newsrooms to bases outside Russia as the application of the new laws remained unclear.
This guide is intended to provide user-friendly, practical guidance for journalists and newsrooms seeking to understand the Russian “fake news” laws and how they’ve been applied to local and international press. This was co-produced by the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, with pro bono legal research provided by Hogan Lovells.This guide is also available in Ukrainian and Russian.