The legal protection now also extends to volunteer fighters
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed amendments into law imposing harsher punishments for disinformation about the Russian armed forces. The legislation, which was approved by the parliament earlier this month, expands the law’s coverage to volunteer fighters.
Previously, legal protection against slander and disinformation covered only the official armed forces. The new measure includes “volunteer battalions, organizations or individuals assisting the completion of tasks, set before the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
The punishment for an offense can range from fines of 100,000 rubles ($1300) to 1.5 million rubles ($19,485) or up to seven years in prison and a ban on holding public office.
Private military company Wagner Group is one of the most well-known volunteer formations taking part in Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. The organization’s head, Evgeny Prigozhin, campaigned for legal protection against disinformation about his fighting force. He also argued earlier this month that the law should not extend to top military commanders, as to not stifle “public and constructive criticism” which helps them to “work responsibly.”