Russian state-controlled media reported this week that a journalist in the Russian republic of Sakha in Siberia has been charged with ‘controlling minds’ under a new media law designed to limit free-speech attacks on government officials.
Police in Russia’s republic of Sakha had accused Mikhail Romanov, a reporter for the Yakutsk Vecherniy weekly, of “affecting the human subconscious” with an article on the alleged tortureof an academic. The authorities suspected that the article had tapped into readers’ subconscious by writing: “This is a story about how anyone can be squashed by the government machine. It’s also about how Big Brother is watching, reading all comments on online forums,” Romanov’s editor told Kommersant, reported The Moscow Times.
This is the first time that a Russian journalist has been tried under a new law that punishes media for publishing information “containing hidden insertions affecting the human subconscious,” Kommersant reported.
The Kremlin has steadily repressed independent journalism and free speech as Putin increases control over the population in the face of an anemic economy.
The journalist could be fined up to 50,000 rubles which is approximately $800 for the first offense, a lot of money in Russia. Follow-on offenses could result in prison time.
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