March 7, 2019 - 13:56 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russia has banned disrespecting the government with offenders facing 15 days in jail and fines of £1,000, the Daily Mail reports.
The Soviet-style law targets online slander with penalties for those who "blatantly disrespect Russian society, the state, official state symbols, the Russian Constitution, and law enforcement agencies."
Vladimir Putin's critics say the move is no more than blatant censorship.
Russia's lower house of parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, voted in favour of the bill in the key second of three readings.
The law would allow prosecutors to decide what amounts to 'fake news' and gives a media watchdog the power to demand an outlet delete the information.
Websites that fail to comply would be blocked.
An online post which demonstrates 'blatant disrespect for society' is punishable with fines of more than £1,000.
Those who repeat offend will see their fine double and could be subject to 15 days in jail, the Guardian reported.
Fines could be more than £17,000 if the infraction leads to grave consequences like death or rioting.
Fake news disseminated via the internet can "lead to mass unrest" and undermine state security, the bill's authors say.