Russia to block criticism of virus measures – which it calls ‘fake news’

Russia last year passed legislation with tough new fines for people spreading misinformation or insulting the state. (AP pic)

MOSCOW: Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said it would start blocking from Friday access to “fake news” social media posts criticising quarantine measures taken by the city of Moscow to curb the new coronavirus.

Moscow officials have unveiled a tracking app and also plan to roll out a QR-code system to show codes to police monitoring compliance with the lockdown in Russia, where there have been 94 deaths and nearly 12,000 cases.

The prosecutor’s office said that one video in which a man accused authorities of trying to set up a “digital concentration camp” falsely stated that a coup d’etat was underway.

Another post falsely described a system of special passes allowing holders to move around the city freely, it said.

“The prosecutor general’s office continues to take measures to restrict access to information resources where fake news about the situation with the new coronavirus are published,” it said, adding that communications watchdog Roskomnadzor had been asked to remove the video.

Russia last year passed legislation with tough new fines for people spreading misinformation or insulting the state, bringing criticism from some of increased censorship by President Vladimir Putin’s government.