MOSCOW (AP) — Russian lawmakers have given tentative approval to a bill that criminalizes insulting state symbols or the government, another effort to tighten control over the country’s political scene.
The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, voted 332-42 Thursday to approve a draft bill that allows sentencing offenders to 15 days in jail for publishing materials showing disrespect to the state, its symbols and government organs. The vote marks the first of the three required readings.
A separate bill introduced fines for publishing “fake news” threatening public health and security. It also envisaged blocking internet sources that publish false information.
The legislation also needs to be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin.
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Critics see the bills as part of Kremlin efforts to stifle criticism and tighten control.