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Bloomberg, CNN, BBC and CBS have all blocked their reporters from reporting in Russia, and it’s unclear if or when they will resume news operations.
The three organizations announced they were suspending their reporting after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law on Friday a new law punishing those who spread “false information” onwith sentences of up to 15 years in prison, according to the New York Times.
“CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to assess the situation and our next steps,” a CNN spokesperson said. CBS also reportedly confirmed it would stop broadcasting from Russia and Bloomberg announced that it would also stop reporting, citing the threat of criminal repercussions.
“We have decided with great regret to temporarily suspend our news gathering inside Russia,” Bloomberg editor John Micklethwait said in an article explaining the situation. “The amendment to the penal code, which appears designed to make any freelance journalist a criminal by mere association, makes it impossible for any semblance of normal journalism to continue inside the country.”
The BBC echoed Bloomberg’s complaint that Putin’s new legislation “appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism”, BBC director-general Tim Davie said in an article, although he confirmed that the media wouldn’t stop reporting on the country. “Our BBC News service in Russian will continue to operate from outside Russia.”
Shortly after, the BBC announced that it would provide its international dark web news website via the Tor router to circumvent Russian censorship and give citizens access, including its Russian foreign language editions, Arabic and Persian. The BBC also had to send its programming beyond the Russian border via a medium other than the Internet.