Russian lawmakers have approved a draft law criminalizing the distribution of "false news" about military operations conducted by the Russian Armed Forces.  

The bill, approved by the State Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament) on March 4, will be added as a separate article to the Criminal Code to "prevent the discrediting of the armed forces of the Russian Federation during their operations to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security."

The new law envisions penalties of up to 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of the offense. The penalty for the distribution of fake news about the Russian Army that leads to "serious consequences" rises to up to 15 years in prison.

It also makes it illegal "to make calls against the use of Russian troops to protect the interests of Russia" or "for discrediting such use" with a penalty possible of up to three years in prison. The same provision applies to calls for sanctions against Russia.