Putin’s ‘Fake News’ law restricts free speech



A women flees with her family across a destroyed bridge in the outskirts of Kyiv

Anna Raley, News Editor

It has been almost a month since Putin’s Russia invaded Ukraine. Within that time, a mass amount of Ukrainian civilians have been forcefully displaced marking Putin’s invasion as the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

Within this first month of war, Ukrainian citizens have been relentlessly attacked. The United Nations reported more than two million Ukrainians have fled the country, with children being the priority. Barbaric attacks from Russian forces have left Ukrainian cities in apocalyptic conditions. In Mariupol, an alleged children’s shelter housing around 1,300 civilians was destroyed by a Russian missile within the third week of the invasion. This act mirrors others across Ukraine as Russian troops marched south from Belarus towards Kyiv. 

On March 9th, a Ukrainian maternity hospital was bombed, serving as a devestating symbol of the savergery of war.  This particular attack occurred after Russia had agreed to deliver a 12-hour ceasefire in order to allow refugees to evacuate. Ukrainian President Zelensky labeled this devastation as an atrocity, emulating the outrage spanning across the globe. 

However, despite disturbing bloodshed and a mass flee of Ukrainian civilians, Russian forces have not accomplished what Russian President Putin has set out to do. Putin’s military objectives are rooted in the overthrow of major Ukrainian cities. However, these major cities, including the capital Kyiv, are still in control of the Ukrainian government. Due to the extraordinary resilience of the Ukrainian people there has been a consensus that the Russian invasion has reached a stalemate. 

There is reportedly rising concern that Putin will look to unconventional weapons in an attempt to surpass this stalemate; a possibility that United State’s President Biden and the allied nations have considered during the most recent summit.

Biden has expressed his moral outrage with Putin’s actions and publicly commented that Putin should be removed as president of Russia. However, this statement was followed by an explanation saying that Biden’s condemnation of Putin is rooted in personal expression of his outrage and not a change in American policy seeking to extract Putin from office. Biden told reporters, “The last thing I want to do is engage in a land war or a nuclear war with Russia.” After Biden’s public comment, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told journalists, “we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter.” Thus depicting the severity of Biden’s words in such a hostile global environment. 

The harrowingly precarious nature of the current war is further amplified by the lack of statements from community members within this article. The Crier reached out to members within the community with Russian background, however, due to Putin’s fake news law, speaking upon Putin’s actions as a person of Russian identity holds potential consequences. Under the fake news law that Putin passed in early March, any published condemnation or contradiction to Putin’s invasion in the Ukraine is punishable by law. The “fake news” that the law refers to can be seen as references to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine as an “invasion”; as the Kremlin strictly refers to the invasion as a “special military operation”. Russian news sources have also been applying the term, “fake news” to the bombing in the maternity hospital, an act that was heavily covered by U.S. news sources. 

Due to this new law, major global news sources such as BBC and Bloomberg news stated that they would temporarily halt reporting in Russia. CNN and CBS also said that they would stop broadcasting in Russia until the situation received greater assessment. Russian officials have reportedly argued that false information is being spread by Western European news outlets and sought to use the law in order to make acts of true journalism imposed by the US and its allies, punishable by law. News executives stated that this new law would hamper independent reporting and the access to any on ground information; requiring a tedious balance between the universal journalist objective to inform the masses and the obligation to protect journalists against retaliation.

The impact of this law can be seen within the campus community, depicting the tremendous impact an invasion across the globe has on each and every country. Despite there being no explicit violence within the Saint Anselm community, many members are still ponderously affected by the war.