BBC and Bloomberg to temporarily halt work of their journalists in Russia

March 5, 2022, 12:52 AM UTC

Bloomberg News and the BBC will temporarily suspend the work of their journalists inside Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that criminalizes independent reporting in the country.

“We have with great regret decided to temporarily suspend our news gathering inside Russia,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said Friday. “The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country.”

The legislation will impose prison terms of up to 15 years for people charged with spreading “fake news” about the military or calling for sanctions against the country. It’s the latest step in a major crackdown on independent media in Russia.

Two liberal local broadcasters, Ekho Moskvy and TV Rain, went off the air Thursday under pressure from prosecutors who’d demanded that access be restricted because of their coverage of Putin’s war in Ukraine. The websites of the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Meduza, an independent news group, weren’t accessible Friday. Facebook and Twitter were blocked by the country’s communications regulator, Interfax reported.

CNN also announced Friday that it will stop broadcasting in the country as it evaluates the situation.

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