RUSSIA: Lawmakers Approve Up To Five Year Prison Sentence For Disputing Kremlin’s Coronavirus Numbers

The Associated Press reports:

On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers approved fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to five years for anyone who spreads what is deemed to be false information. Media outlets will be fined up to $127,000 if they disseminate disinformation about the outbreak.

Lawmakers rushed the bill through all three readings in just one day after President Vladimir Putin spoke about the need to counter “provocations, stupid gossip and malicious lies” about the outbreak. The crusade began about a month ago, when Russia’s caseload was still in the single digits.

The Kremlin’s stance of “everything is under control” prompted speculation that authorities might be hiding or underreporting the scale of the outbreak in line with Soviet-era traditions of covering up embarrassing truths.