A State Duma deputy is preparing to submit a bill that would allow editors and media executives to be prosecuted for the "publication of false anti-Russian information," Izvestia reported Thursday.
United Russia's Yevgeny Fyodorov said the bill is a response to recent publications in the Russian media invoking inappropriate historical analogies and interpretations of events taking place in Russia and Ukraine. The bill would also criminalize media "providing information support to anti-Russian extremists and separatist forces, including the representation of events beyond Russian borders."
The journalists writing the articles will not be targeted for prosecution. Instead, the bill pursues legal action against managers and editors that persistently green-light the publication of articles that the Interior Ministry considers to be lies, Fyodorov told Izvestia, adding that the violations would fall under laws governing "crimes against the state" such as treason and espionage. The deputy said the amendments were designed to combat "deliberate deception of audiences by media professionals, intending to support terrorism, intervention, separatism and genocide."
Fyodorov has a history of pursuing restrictive legislation. In 2012 he drafted a law requiring foreign-funded NGOs to register as foreign agents, which has been criticized by human rights organizations as repressive. He said that he has considered expanding the provisions of the law to foreign-funded media outlets.
Independent media has come under fire from conservative politicians. The opposition-leaning television station Dozhd was dropped by the majority of Russian cable providers last month after it published a controversial poll asking if surrendering Leningrad to the Nazis might have saved thousands of lives. Legislators accused the poll of denigrating history. Victor Shenderovich, a columnist at Ekho Moskvy, also came under fire for comparing the Sochi Winter Olympics to Nazi Germany's 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.