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Several major news networks said they would stop broadcasting from Russia Friday after Moscow moved to imprison journalists who publish stories that deviate from President Vladimir Putin’s false war narrative.
CBS News, ABC News, CNN, Bloomberg, the BBC and the CBC announced they were curbing their coverage in Russia amid the country’s crackdown on news and free speech.
“Because of the new censorship law passed in Russia today, some Western networks including ABC News are not broadcasting from the country tonight,” ABC News said in a statement to The Post.
“We will continue to assess the situation and determine what this means for the safety of our teams on the ground.”
“The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs,” BBC Director-General Tim Davie said.
The announcements came after Russia blocked access to the websites of foreign news organizations like the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Deutsche Welle.
Under a law passed Russia’s parliament Friday, journalists who categorize the invasion of Ukraine as a “war,” or report on Kremlin military setbacks and civilian deaths would face three years in prison. The punishment could rise to 15 years behind bars for cases that led to “severe consequences.”
Russia also blocked access to Facebook and Twitter Friday.
The censorship bill “will force those who lied and made statements discrediting our armed forces to bear very grave punishment,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, said.
“I want everyone to understand, and for society to understand, that we are doing this to protect our soldiers and officers, and to protect the truth.”
Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday the move showed desperation by Putin, who is said to be holed up in the Ural Mountains, fuming at the resistance his army is facing in Ukraine — and at home.
“Obviously Putin is shutting these people down because he is afraid. He wouldn’t be shutting them down if everything was going peachy keen,” McFaul said during a call with reporters and experts hosted by Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. “This is an indicator of his state of mind.”
Russia had continued to falsely claim it is on a “special military operation” to prevent “genocide” of nationalists in the Donbas region, and has been calling reports on the invasion “fake news.”
With Post wires
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