Mar 18, 2019

Putin signs bill banning "blatant disrespect" for Russian state online

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a set of controversial measures into law Monday that criminalize the dissemination of information online that "exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia," the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Russian lawmakers say the bills are intended to combat fake and abusive comments online, but critics have labeled the legislation "direct censorship" and yet another step toward autocracy. Online publications and users that repeatedly spread "fake news" will "face fines of up to 1.5 million rubles, or $22,900." Repeat offenders that publish information deemed insulting to Russian authorities — including Putin — could face 15 days in jail.

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Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

Exclusive: Anti-Sanders campaign targets black South Carolina voters

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

Inside the fight over FBI surveillance powers

Carter Page. Photo: Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images

Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.

Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.