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Russian Justice Ministry proposes fines for users who share articles from non-registered media

Russia’s Justice Ministry has published its proposal for a new Codex of Administrative Violations (KoAP). In Russia, the KoAP dictates legal penalties for non-criminal offenses.

The Justice Ministry’s proposal for an updated codex includes a provision penalizing “the preparation or distribution of items produced by an unregistered mass media source” as well as sources whose registration papers fail to include any new information such as a change in ownership.

Should the measure become law, individuals would receive small fines in the low thousands of rubles (up to $50 for public officials), and organizations would be fined up to 30,000 rubles ($470). Any items in violation of the rule would also be confiscated.

The measure is less significant for its fines than for its context as a regulation that extends media restrictions to ordinary individuals. In late 2019, the State Duma passed a law enabling the Russian government to label any social media or Internet user a “foreign agent” if they distribute information and receive funds from abroad. The “foreign agent” designation previously applied only to organizations. 

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