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Ukraine war latest: South-East Asia media assesses regional impact of conflict

Russian investigators on Wednesday launched a criminal case against a blogger for allegedly spreading “deliberately false information” about the war in Ukraine, the first use of a new law that carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The investigative committee said that the case against Veronika Belotserkovskaya was opened on several entries published on her Instagram page.

These included “intentional misinformation about the use of” [Russian armed forces] for the destruction of cities and civilian populations in Ukraine, including children, during a special military operation on the territory of that State”.

It marks the first use of a new law introduced on March 4, a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, making the spread of false information about the actions of the Russian military a criminal offence.

“So?! First one down? I’ve been officially declared a decent person!” A message posted to Belotserkovskaya’s Instagram page, where she has more than 890,000 followers, accompanied the news of the case. It appears that she is currently based outside Russia.

The committee said that other cases are also being investigated. It shared a video of members of the security service, some armed and in camouflage, visiting the homes of a young man in Tomsk and a woman in nearby Seversk.

At least 180 administrative, rather than criminal, cases have also been opened under another separate censorship law that introduces criminal liability for public actions “aimed at defaming” the Russian Armed Forces.

According to Network Freedoms, a project of the Agora human rights NGO, cases are often filed against people for staging a person’s picket, labels on their clothing and posts on social media.

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