Media flee Russia to avoid Putin’s fake news law

The New York Times pulled its reporters out of Russia on Tuesday, the latest precaution taken by a major media company in response to the Kremlin’s punitive new “fake news” law.

Why is this important: “Even in the depths of the Cold War, under the Soviet dictatorship, this never happened,” tweeted Times deputy editor Cliff Levy.

  • Peter Baker, Times Chief White House Correspondent commented that at the beginning of the Putin era, “it has never been so close to this”.

State of play: Discovery has suspended “the broadcast of its channels and services in Russia,” a spokesperson said this week.

  • Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch later noted the global magazine giant would temporarily suspend all publishing operations with Condé Nast Russia.
  • A CNN spokesperson said the cable giant had temporarily ceased reporting from Russia, but was not closing its Moscow bureau.
  • Even the London Stock Exchange said tuesday it would suspend access to its products containing news and commentary in Russia.

Rollback: Broadcasters like CNN, as well as ABC and CBS, said they would stop broadcasting in the country soon after Russia passed the new law last week.

  • Bloomberg temporarily suspended its news gathering in Russia on Friday.
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty suspended its broadcast operations on Sunday, after the Kremlin blocked its website. The websites of Voice of America, which is also funded by the US government, German television station Deutsche Welle and Meduza, an independent Russian media outlet based in Latvia, were also blocked.

Between the lines: Many news organizations are temporarily suspending operations or broadcasting while they assess the impact of this new law. Others have found compromises.

  • The BBC said on Tuesday that after careful consideration it had decided to resume English reporting from Russia, after temporarily suspending all operations last week.

What to watch: Broadcasters seek to short wave radio signals that travel long distances. as a way to reach Russian civilians amid repression.

  • Meanwhile, tech companies continue to restrict Russian state media content.
  • instagram noted it would follow that its sister company Facebook downgrades state media posts in its feed and in Stories, per Engadget.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with Discovery’s statement.