273 criminal cases on “fakes” about the army have been opened in Russia since 2022, Investigative Committee.
“Last year (2023), 90 criminal cases were initiated under the article of the Criminal Code on the public spread of knowingly false information about the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, - The head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykyn told Russian state New agency RIA. “The total number since the introduction of criminal liability for spreading the fake news - 273 cases. The Investigative Committee has opened 81 criminal cases for discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”, Mr Bastrykin added.
In Russia, criminal prosecution for “spreading fakes” was imposed shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. According to Russian law, the “fakes about army” cases are opened against people, who made a public statement (for example, on social media) that is different from one on the official press-release of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Any critical or alternative view on the actions of the Russian army in or outside of Ukraine could be branded as “fakes” by the Russian authorities and the accused can be fined or face up to 10 years in prison.
For example, in April 2023 journalist Roman Ivanov was arrested on three charges of spreading fake information about the Russian army. One of the charges is for Ivanov’s posts on social media regarding the murders of the civilian population in March 2022 in Bucha, Kyiv region.
Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin is currently serving eight years in Russian prison for talking about the atrocities in Bucha live on his YouTube channel.
The same topic of Bucha also was the reason for the case against Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen.
In December 2023 a case on “fakes” was opened again Russian politician Leonid Gozman: “He posted distorted statements about the leadership of Russia and the Russian Armed Forces on Facebook and Telegram,” Russian state new agency TASS reported on December 21, 2023.