- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a hastily passed new law that would give the government the power to shut down websites accused of libeling or publishing defamatory information on public figures.

Mr. Putin signed the measure Monday after the State Duma approved the bill earlier this month.

Under the law, within a day of a court order, authorities can now move to block a website “for failure to remove information discrediting the honor, dignity or business reputation of a citizen.”

Previously, the government could only impose fines on websites that failed to delete defamatory material, sputniksnews.com reported.

The move comes as human rights groups express increasing concern about the state of press freedoms in Russia under Mr. Putin, as some news outlets and government critics have seen their reporting on official corruption censored in Russia.

Russian web users were already facing major disruptions to service this week after regulators moved to shut down the popular encrypted messaging service Telegram, citing security concerns.

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