Russian president Vladimir Putin approved changes to the law that governs presidential elections in the country putting new restrictions on media coverage, Associated Press reported quoting local agencies. The changes come ahead of the elections that are to be held in March. Vladimir Putin, who has ruled Russia for the last 24 years, is expected to seek a new six-year term in the polls.
The 71-year-old president has not declared whether he will run, saying that he will announce that only after the parliament formally sets the election date.Under the amendments, only journalists contractually employed by registered media outlets will be allowed to cover election commission meetings. This will potentially bar freelancers and independent journalists. Any coverage of the election commission’s actions on military bases or in areas under martial law without prior permission of regional and military authorities will not be allowed.
The changes also prohibit campaign activity on “blocked resources” as Russia continues crackdown on opposition and information flow. Earlier, Russia banned an array of websites and services including Facebook and Instagram. Although many people use VPNs to circumvent the blockage, Associated Press reported.