UPDATED: Russian upper house backs bill imposing jail terms for fake news about its army

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MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) – Russia’s upper house of parliament approved a draft law on Friday that would impose a jail term of up to 15 years for people who intentionally spread “fake” information about Russia’s armed forces, the TASS news agency reported.

The bill will become law once President Vladimir Putin signs it, as he is widely expected to do. Moscow says it is fighting back in what it casts as an information war with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia’s parliament on Friday passed a law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally ‘fake’ information about the armed forces as Moscow fights back in what it casts as an information war over the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly said that false information has been spread by Russia’s enemies such as the United States and its allies in an attempt to sow discord and divide its people.

Russian lawmakers passed the law, making the spread of ‘fake’ information or public calls for sanctions against Russia criminal offences.

“If the fakes lead to serious consequences then imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens,” the lower house of parliament, known as the Duma in Russian, said in a statement.

The law appears to give the Russian state much stronger powers to crack down on what officials consider to be statements that discredit the armed forces.

Photo – Russian people enjoy the sunny weather on the VDNH exhibition centre in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

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