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Despite appeal by major news outlets, Russia's censor says it will keep issuing fines for hyperlinks to obscene language

Source: Dozhd

The chief editors at several major Russian news outlets have appealed to Roskomnadzor, the federal censor, demanding an explanation for the fines the agency has been imposing on websites for including hyperlinks in stories that direct readers to content with obscene language.

Signatories say the censorship policy infringes on the freedom of the press by forcing journalists to refrain from citing primary sources, and requires publications to double-check hyperlinks embedded in older reports. The letter to Roskomnadzor says this kind of “constant monitoring” has no legal or professional basis.

Speaking to TASS, Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky said his agency has no plans to stop fining news outlets for hyperlinks that direct readers to obscene language. “If you post a hyperlink, you bear responsibility for what the reader sees,” explained Ampelonsky.

When fining media outlets for hyperlinks to obscenities, Roskomnadzor cites an administrative statute against the dissemination by the mass media of information containing foul language. The law stipulates fines as high as 200,000 rubles ($3,140), but typical fines are about 10 times less.