Critique of Russia’s law against fake news by Algemeen Dagblad

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On March 12, 2019, the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad published an article titled ‘Russia introduces steep fines for insulting the country and politicians’ (Rusland kondigt torenhoge boetes aan voor beledigen van land en politici). The piece contains a number of critical observations regarding a law that has been recently adopted in Russia to tighten penalties for spreading fake news, as well as introduce a system of fines for those insulting Russian government institutions or state symbols.
For instance, the article’s author Joost Bosman claims that “legal initiatives designed to fight fake news in Russia can be compared to a bartender trying to fight alcohol abuse in his own bar: there is an agency in St Petersburg from where trolls spread lies throughout the world 24/7  using social media.”
By accusing Russia head-on of making fakes, the journalist in turn contributes to spreading inaccurate information by once again raising the subject of the so-called Olgino trolls, which has become a meme within Russia’s media community. As is always the case with fake news, Joost Bosman neither provided the address nor the telephone numbers of the St Petersburg agency, and did not refer to any sources.
Joost Bosman also shared his assumptions on the alleged plans by the Russian government to use the new law as a tool for suppressing the opposition and eliminating dissent in Russia.
If Joost Bosman closely follows political developments in Russia, we believe that he should refrain from distorting the reality and twisting facts about the Russian opposition that is broadly represented in the country’s political and social life, and has access to a wide range of media outlets for expressing its point of view.

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