Russian lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation allowing officials to block foreign media in retaliation for the crackdown on Russian state media abroad.
The bill gives Russia’s prosecutor general the right to ban foreign media without court approval if another government is caught carrying out “hostile actions against Russian media abroad”.
The new measures also give officials the power to suspend the work of any news outlet for up to three months if they are accused of disseminating information deemed dangerous, “disrespectful” to the Russian state or constitution, or “targeting to discredit” the Russian army.
The law states that suspended media can resume work after removing any “prohibited information”, while warning that repeat offenders will be shut down.
The bill, which was passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, must now be approved by the upper house and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In June, Russia blacklisted dozens of British and Australian journalists, including leading journalists and editors from the BBC, the Financial Times and the Guardian.
Moscow too threatens to withdraw the credentials of American journalists in the country in response to the perceived mistreatment of Russian journalists in the United States.
Washington blocked three of Russia’s state-owned TV channels in May, targeting Channel One, Rossiya 1 and NTV in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine. The European Union has also blacklisted several Russian state-controlled outlets, including RT, Sputnik, Rossia 24, and Rossiya RTR.
At least 3,000 independent websites and media have been blocked or censored in Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, according to online freedom organization Roskomsvoboda.