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Russian investigators on Wednesday opened criminal proceedings against a blogger for spreading what they said was “knowingly false information” about the war in Ukraine, during the first application of a new law that carries a penalty of up to up to 15 years in prison.
The Investigative Committee said the case was opened against Veronika Belotserkovskaya over several entries posted on her Instagram page.
These “knowingly contained false information about the use of the [Russian armed forces] to destroy towns and the civilian population in Ukraine, including children, during a special military operation on the territory of that state”.
It marks the first use of a new law introduced on March 4, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, making it a criminal offense to spread false information about Russian military actions.
“So?! The first down? I’ve been officially declared a decent person! a post on Belotserkovskaya’s Instagram page, where she has more than 890,000 followers, said, along with news of the case. She appears to be currently based outside of Russia.
Other cases are also being investigated, the committee said. He shared a video of members of the security services, some armed and in camouflage, visiting the home of a young man in Tomsk and a woman in nearby Seversk.
At least 180 administrative, rather than criminal, cases have also been opened under another separate censorship law that introduces criminal liability for public actions “aimed at discrediting” the Russian armed forces.
Most often, lawsuits are brought against people for organizing individual pickets, for the tags on their clothes and for social media posts, according to Network Freedoms, a project of the human rights NGO Agora.