Staunton, Sept. 30 – The FSB has published a new order specifying that those news agencies who cover negative phenomena in the military, security agencies or military industry, even if this information is not classified, may be categorized as “foreign agents” and suffer all the restrictions that imposes on those who are.
The new order offers a laundry list of issues that the Russian media are not to cover including but not limited to military crime, morale, size and dislocation of units, military production and all aspects of Roskosmos lest such coverage limit the Russian government’s ability to promote the security of the country (publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001202109300048?index=0&rangeSize=1).
This is the implementation of what officials have said is the power of the authorities to do so (facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4681313321912794&id=100001025171767). But the sweep of the order is so broad that it constitutes the imposition of censorship on almost everything concerning the security sector.
Not surprisingly, this has both frightened and outraged many in Russia, and a petition against this move and the entire “foreign agents” system is now circulating. As of today, it has garnered more than 150,000 signatures (change.org/p/государственная-дума-мы-требуем-отмены-законов-об-иноагентах).
But this hybrid imposition of censorship has not yet sparked condemnation from Western governments at least in part because of its hybrid nature: It effectively imposes state control over the media, including privately owned outlets, but does so without the kind of censorship arrangements most people associate with the term.