A group of journalists gathered on Friday near the country's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in downtown Moscow where lawmakers are debating bills on non-government organizations and recriminalizing defamation, Gazeta.ru news website reported.
According to the website, about 30 journalists are picketing the State Duma. Some of them are holding banners reading “Against Censorship,” “No Libel Law.” The protesters risk being fined for holding illegal protests, a law that came into force in mid-June.
Russian lawmakers are discussing a bill that proposes to criminalize defamation, a move that the opposition decries as an apparent attempt to silence critics of the Kremlin.
The bill could carry fines of up to five million rubles ($170,000) for misinformation damaging a person's reputation.
Apart from the journalists, several members of the liberal-democratic party, Yabloko, are also protesting in front of the Duma’s building against the new bill that brands non-government organizations (NGO) involved in political activity and funded from abroad as “foreign agents.”
The lawmakers will review the bills, which have already been approved in the first reading, in the second and the third reading on Friday.