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Putin approves new media restrictions before election

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AAP

Russia has new restrictions on media coverage after President Vladimir Putin approved changes to the country’s election laws.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved changes to the law that governs presidential elections, putting new restrictions on media coverage, local news agencies report.

The changes come before the election due to be held in March in which Putin, who has ruled Russia for the past 24 years, is expected to seek a new six-year term.

The 71-year-old has not declared whether he will run, saying he will announce that only after parliament formally sets the election date.

Under the amendments that he approved, only journalists contractually employed by registered media outlets will be allowed to cover election commission meetings, potentially barring freelancers and independent journalists.

The changes also include barring any coverage of the commission’s actions on military bases or in areas under martial law without prior permission of regional and military authorities.

In addition, the changes prohibit campaign activity on “blocked resources”.

Under an intensifying crackdown on opposition and information flow, Russia has banned an array of websites and services including Facebook and Instagram, although many people use VPNs to circumvent the blockage.

AP

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