President of Russia Vladimir Putin has signed laws making it illegal to “discredit” or share “fakes” about volunteers and mercenaries fighting for Russia in Ukraine.
Similar laws already about Russia’s Armed Forces and the Russian authorities are already on the books. They will now extend to “volunteer formations, organizations, or individuals” providing “assistance in the performance of tasks assigned to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
A first time offense of “discrediting” volunteers or mercenaries carries a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (around 650 USD) for individuals; 200,000 rubles (around 2,600 USD) for officials; and 500,000 (around 6,500 USD) for organizations.
Repeat offenses will be felony crimes with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. “Fakes” carry the same maximum punishment.
In January, Wagner Group founder Evgeny Prigozhin suggested banning “public actions aimed at discrediting volunteers, including former prisoners.” The State Duma passed a law to that effect on March 14.