US slams Russia's full media crackdown amid Ukraine war

Washington DC - The US State Department has accused Moscow of cracking down on media amid Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Kremlin is cracking down on all critical and opposition media outlets.
The Kremlin is cracking down on all critical and opposition media outlets.  © Collage: 123RF / pjirawat & bormash

"At home, the Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth, and Moscow's efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying," spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office asked media regulator Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the website of Kremlin-critical radio station Ekho Moskvy, or Echo of Moscow.

Authorities had previously accused Ekho and other critical media of spreading false information about Russia's attack on Ukraine.

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Moscow officially calls the invasion of Ukraine a "military operation" - and has banned media from using terms like "attack" or "invasion."

The online channel Dozhd is also reportedly shutting down.

"Ekho Moskvy has been respected for its even-handed treatment of breaking news since its founding 32 years ago, and, until yesterday, its broadcasts reached some 1.8 million daily listeners throughout Russia and beyond," Price said.

"Dozhd, which has been operating for more than a decade, is similarly known for high-quality reporting," he added.

Social media under threat

The Echo of Moscow is shuttering after 32 years.
The Echo of Moscow is shuttering after 32 years.  © IMAGO / SNA

Price said that Moscow was "also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia's citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions and to connect with each other and the outside world."

He also said that the Russian parliament was set to meet in a special session on Friday to "consider a bill that would make 'unofficial' reporting on Russia's further invasion of Ukraine punishable by up to 15 years in prison."

"The people of Russia did not choose this war. Putin did," Price said, adding that Russians had a right to know about "the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine" as well about "the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers."

Washington again called on Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine and "immediately cease this bloodshed."

Cover photo: Collage: 123RF / pjirawat & bormash

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