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Jurisdictions Surveyed: Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bangladesh | Belarus | El Salvador | India | Kazakhstan | Kenya | Kyrgyzstan | Mauritius | Moldova | Nepal | Nicaragua | Pakistan | Russian Federation | South Africa | Sri Lanka | Tajikistan | Ukraine | Uzbekistan
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Post-Soviet States

Due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, every former Soviet country included in this survey has introduced restrictive measures, often including stricter regulation of the media. Many used this opportunity to address longstanding questions surrounding online media regulations. Measures introduced by individual governments aimed to install new regulatory systems and varied from establishing new regulators to amending existing criminal and administrative laws. Almost all of these measures were met with fierce criticism from local, regional, and international media watchdogs. Authorities of all the countries researched justified their efforts to restrict media freedoms and impose more censorship on COVID-19-related news coverage by the need to counter the so-called “fake news” problem. The newly adopted legislation typically fails to provide accurate definitions of the many terms related to electronic media activities or determine what exactly constitutes “fake news.” In many instances, media observers have criticized legislative changes, citing the danger of eroding freedom of speech. While governments of the majority of the countries reviewed were successful in adopting new regulations, some had to retract proposed draft laws, and some are still at the public debate stage with final decisions expected later in 2020. Georgia and Turkmenistan are not included in this survey because no media-related legislation has been considered in these countries since the pandemic began. A report on Azerbaijan is provided separately.

I. Introduction

New regulations on the media, especially electronic media, in the countries of the former Soviet Union that were adopted after the COVID-19 pandemic began are characterized by overregulation and attempts by the governments of these countries to curb free speech on the grounds of fighting “fake news” during the pandemic, subduing critical voices coming from the opposition or civil society.[1] These regulatory activities have introduced amendments to existing laws on the media and to administrative and criminal codes. In some instances, these activities were linked to the introduction of a states of emergency and declarations that measures taken were “temporary.” Several amendments introduced a new vocabulary and definitions of terms, though in many instances these definitions were considered vague. Among them are such terms as “fake news,” “online media owner,” and “an authorized state body for media regulations.”  Observers have emphasized that such terms as “social media,” “individual bloggers,” and “registration requirements” were not clearly defined and their legal status remains uncertain in many instances. Independent media experts, journalists, media owners, and other civil society representatives have criticized the regulatory changes and advocated with mixed success against them.

Details of each country’s experience with these issues are provided below.

II. Armenia

On March 16, 2020, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia declared a state of emergency to respond to the novel coronavirus.[2] The decree provided for the suspension of certain constitutional rights and freedoms, including freedom of movement and freedom of peaceful assembly; prohibited public gatherings of more than 20 persons; and stated that any dissemination of information, including online, that refers to the coronavirus or activities carried out by health authorities may only refer to information provided by a special emergency office under the Prime Minister of Armenia. It emphasized that all COVID-19-related information published in the Armenian media must not contradict official information and must reproduce officially distributed information.[3] Any reporting in violation of these rules should be deleted and removed by the publisher.[4]  Radio Liberty reported that, threatened by fines in an amount equal to US$1,600, media outlets were forced to remove or edit their stories. Reportedly, these stories covered the spread of the coronavirus in Russia and in Armenian prisons.[5]  These requirements were cancelled within about a month even though the state of emergency was extended. The Minister of Justice issued a statement saying that these restrictions may be restored based on the results of media monitoring conducted by the government.[6]

On April 2, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Armenia recommended that the National Assembly (legislature) approve amendments to the Law on Freedom of Information that would allow the government to withhold environmental information if publication of this information would have a negative impact on the environment. If adopted, the amendments would allow the government to reject environmental information requests from journalists and civil society organizations if the government decides that the release of this information may “negatively impact the environment.”[7]

On August 5, 2020, the Law on Audiovisual Media was signed by the President. Among other things, the Law restricts the broadcast of foreign TV channels and programs, making them the subject of international treaties.[8]

III. Belarus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the government of Belarus has monitored COVID-19-related media publications as prescribed by the country’s Media Law.  The 2008 Media Law of Belarus states that the publication, broadcast, or electronic transmission of information, which is false or not trustworthy, is the reason for terminating the registration of a media outlet or blocking the Internet resource following the warning issued by the Ministry of Information.[9]   In April 2020, the Ministry of Information issued a warning to an online media portal for inaccurately reporting on coronavirus cases in the country. The Ministry characterized a publication about the death of a hospital patient as fake news and threatened to close the portal under the Law of the Republic of Belarus on Mass Media.[10]

Social organizations have reported on numerous cases of government attempts to withhold information from the public and intimidate independent media outlets, especially when reporting on the health care system and its handling of Covid-19 cases.[11] The Criminal Code of Belarus provides for a two-year imprisonment for dispersing of false information that would “discredit” the Republic of Belarus or its government authorities.[12]

IV. Kazakhstan

On June 26, 2020, the President of Kazakhstan signed into law amendments to the country’s Criminal Code and Code of Administrative Violations.[13] These amendments decriminalized the offense of slander, introducing penalties in the form of a fine in the amount of approximately US$1,200 to US$3,800 or administrative arrest for a period of 20 to 25 days for a person who has committed slander in public or with the use of media or telecommunication networks. The Law also amended article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which criminalized the incitement of social, national, clan, racial, class, or religious discord. The word “incitement” in this article was replaced with the word “propagating.” An offense under article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan is now additionally punishable by a fine in an amount equivalent to about US$4,500, restriction of freedom, or imprisonment.[14] 

Another law passed in June 2020 restricted the work of court reporters and limited the tools journalists may use while working in courts.[15] The law allows journalists to only use approved technical means and states that a ‘’[f]ailure to comply with the procedure for using technical means, established by this Code, excludes the possibility of using the data obtained and is the basis for bringing the guilty person to justice.”[16] Audio, video, film recording, and photography during a trial should be carried out according to the prescribed rules of part 7 of article 19 (“Publicity of the trial”) of the Code, and in case of violation, such recordings and photographs will be prohibited for use and distribution in the future. This is the basis for holding the guilty person accountable for disrespecting the court.[17]

According to press publications, during the COVID -19 pandemic in Kazakhstan there have been cases of persecution and prosecution of activists, citizens, bloggers, medical workers, and journalists who have exercised their right to expression.[18] There were reports about short-term administrative arrests of journalists who covered the government introduced quarantine measures.[19]

According to the Adil Soz, the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech (a Kazakstani media watchdog), in June 2020 alone seven criminal charges and  nine civil claims were filed in connection with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. In most of these cases, journalists and bloggers were accused of violating the honor, dignity, and business reputation of others.[20]

V. Kyrgyzstan

As a part of anti-pandemic measures, on March 21, 2020, the Kyrgyz Security Council announced the beginning of a one-month emergency regime starting March 22, 2020.[21] The government extended all quarantine restrictions to journalists, prohibiting their travel and requiring them to work from home. Only a limited number of state TV crews were allowed to report from the field, and the government has become the only source of news on the pandemic. Journalists have been told to follow the government’s daily online briefings and submit questions online or via social media.[22]  

On June 25, 2020, the Supreme Council (Joğorku Keñeş, the legislature) adopted the Law on Manipulating Information, which has since been discredited. This Law was passed, along with other legislative acts proposed by the government since March, as an anti-pandemic measure.[23] The government justified the adoption of this Law by citing similar actions taken by European countries.[24]

The Law on Manipulating Information obligated the owner of a website or webpage to do the following when placing and using online information:

  • not to disseminate false or inaccurate information;
  • immediately restrict or prohibit access to information, the dissemination of which is restricted or prohibited in the Kyrgyz Republic;
  • ensure that the information meets the requirements established by the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic; and
  • moderate the site or page of the site in order to prevent violations established by Kyrgyz laws.[25]

The Law required that the surname, initials, and email address of the owner of an internet site be placed on the internet page for the purpose of sending “legally significant messages” to the webpage owner.[26] It is unclear whether this requirement extended to personal profiles on social media. The Law also gave “authorized state bodies” the right to restrict pretrial access to information:

The authorized state bodies take measures to prevent the dissemination of false or inaccurate information on the internet. If false or inaccurate information is revealed, the authorized state body that monitors compliance with the legislation governing matters related to the use of the internet, in relation to the provider or the owner of the site, or the owner of the site’s page, makes a decision on pretrial restriction of access to information that has signs of being false or unreliable.[27]

Civic activists, journalists, and local and international nongovernmental organizations expressed their concerns about this Law, underscoring that it did not make clear who was considered “the owners of the website,” what corresponds to false or inaccurate information, or who is an “authorized state body,” and generally assessing the Law as unnecessary and risky for freedom of speech.[28]

As a consequence of the pushback, on August 3, 2020, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov signed an Objection to the Law and returned it to Parliament, requesting further legislative work on the document to make it compatible with constitutionally protected personal rights.[29]

VI. Moldova

A state of emergency was declared by the Moldovan Parliament on March 17, 2020, in response to the country’s epidemiological situation and COVID-19 infections. The Emergency Declaration provided for the coordination of the activities of mass media related to the crisis and the introduction of “special rules” for telecommunications during the crisis, among other things. It noted the necessity of informing the population about the causes and proportions of the situation, and about the measures taken to prevent danger, mitigate consequences, and protect the population, as well as the need to familiarize the population with applicable rules of behavior during this exceptional situation.[30]

In line with the state of emergency, the Audiovisual Council of the Republic of Moldova (a government TV and radio regulatory body) issued Provision No. 2, signed by the Council’s president.[31] The Provision stated that all media outlets are obliged

to ensure the maximum accuracy and complete correctness of the information, due to the essential character of the fact that the narrative must come from reliable sources [and be] sufficiently documented from a factual point of view, with a credible and impartial approach to events, avoiding sensationalism and infodemia characterized by an overabundance of information that can be confusing, combating the contamination of the public with fake news appearing on social networks.[32]

Articles 5 and 6 of the document require presenters, moderators, and editors to avoid expressing their personal opinions during the state of emergency and to avoid forming arbitrary opinions while covering topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the national and external context. The Council emphasized the need to use only reliable, truthful, impartial, and balanced sources of information provided by Moldovan officials and foreign public authorities.[33] At the same time, the length of the period when government authorities are required to respond to public information requests was extended threefold to 45 days.[34] Also, talk show hosts are prohibited from interviewing “anyone other than the officials responsible for managing the country during the state of emergency.”[35] Journalists’ requests to allow free online Q&A sessions during government coronavirus briefings have remained unanswered.[36] No information on prosecution of journalists has been identified. 

VII. Russian Federation

A. New Legislation

The Russian Federation established rules and standards for defining misinformation and preventing its spread in March 2020. The spread of inaccurate or false information was addressed through amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation; the Code of Administrative Offenses; and the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies, and the Protection of Information. The legislation imposed penalties and prison sentences for spreading “false information” about the coronavirus.[37]

The Federal Law of April 1, 2020, amended articles 31 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation and added a new article 207.1 to the Criminal Code.[38] According to these provisions, the public dissemination  of intentionally false information that may pose a threat to the life and safety of citizens and the nonintentional dissemination of false information without aggravating circumstances are punishable by a fine of approximately US$4,100 to US$9,500; a fine equaling the amount of the wage, salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of one year to 18 months; compulsory labor for a term of up to 360 hours; up to a year of community service; or restriction of freedom for up to three years.[39]

Another newly added Criminal Code article 207.2 provides for a much harsher punishment, including heavier fines, correctional labor, or imprisonment for up to three years, when “dissemination of knowingly false information leads to grave consequences, which, through negligence, caused harm to an individual’s health.”[40] If the spread of the false information results in the individual’s death or other grave consequences, the prescribed mandatory penalty is a fine in the amount of 1.5 million to 2 million rubles (approximately US$19,170 to US$25,520); a fine equal to the amount of the wage, salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of 18 months to three years; correctional labor for a term of up to two years; compulsory (community) labor for a term of up to five years; or imprisonment for the same five-year period.[41]

On the same day, the President of the Russian Federation signed amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, which address the dissemination of false or inaccurate information by legal entities that are using mass media or the internet.[42] If found guilty, depending on the circumstances and consequences, violators may face fines up to the equivalent of US$127,800 and confiscation of their equipment.[43]

Government Regulation No. 358 of March 27, 2020, ordered the creation of a special Communication Center under the Government’s Coordination Council to Combat the Spread of Coronavirus Infection. One of the Center’s main tasks is “to identify and refute false information about the coronavirus infection, the dissemination of which can pose a threat to human life and health, lead to an increase of tension in society, and destabilize the socio-economic and political situation in the country.”[44]  

On March 18, 2020, Roskomnadzor(the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media) also issued a statement on its website warning mass media outlets and all informational resources on the internet that on the basis of the Federal Law on Information, “[t]he most stringent measures, up to complete and immediate restriction of access to the information resources in question, and revocation of licenses“ can be applied for publishing false information.[45]

B. Application and Enforcement of New Laws

Even before the new legislation was passed, the government utilized existing legislation to control the spread of COVID-19-related information. On March 23, 2020, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation published a press release reporting ongoing investigations into the “dissemination of false information on the number of patients infected with coronavirus in Moscow.”[46] According to the press release, the investigations were being conducted in line with articles 237 (distortion of information about events, facts, or phenomena endangering human life or health) and 281.1 (defamation) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.[47]

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (federal police) also issued a statement reminding persons about potential liability for the dissemination of false information. The Ministryexplained that it will be using article 213 of the Criminal Code (on hooliganism) to hold those who disseminate false information criminally responsible.[48]

During the first three months of the pandemic, Russian authorities reportedly initiated nearly 200 prosecutions for “fake news.”[49] From the middle of March to June 10, 2020, 38 cases of criminal prosecution under article 207.1 of the Criminal Code were initiated in 21 regions of Russia. The highest number of prosecutions was recorded in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.[50] Roskomnadzor reported in mid-April 2020 the deletion or removal of 172 internet pages or websites under the Law on Fake News. Thirty-six of the internet resources were removed based on the orders of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Russian news agency TASS officially stated that Russian officials are “restricting access to unreliable socially significant information disseminated under the guise of reliable messages.”[51]

Roskomnadzorapplies administrative measures to the editorial offices, authors, managers, and founders of media outlets. In actions that became notorious, Roskomnadzor filed administrative cases against Novaya Gazeta and its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov for two publications that allegedly contained “unreliable socially significant information disseminated under the guise of reliable messages, which poses a threat of harm to the life and health of citizens [and] property, a threatens massive disruption of public order or public safety.” Reportedly, judicial records show that four administrative charges were filed, two against Novaya Gazeta and two against Muratov himself.[52]

On April 12, 2020, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation demanded that Roskomnadzor block a Novaya Gazeta article on the coronavirus situation in Chechnya. The article stated that doctors do not have enough personal protective equipment and that local authorities are conducting mass arrests for violations of self-isolation orders. The article was removed from the newspaper’s website due to the Prosecutor General’s demand before any action was taken.[53]

Another subject of Roskomnadzor complaints is the Echo of Moscow (Ekho Moskvy) radio station. On June 22, 2020, a court fined the radio station 260,000 rubles (approximately US$3,516) for “knowingly spreading false news that posed a threat to human health.”[54] The editor of the station’s website was also fined 60,000 rubles (approximately US$811). The accusations stemmed from a March 16, 2020, interview in which a program’s guest cast doubt on the reliability of the Russian government’s official statistics on COVID-19. A transcript of the interview was published on the Ekho Moskvy website after it had been broadcast. According to court documents, the fines were issued for “knowingly spreading false news” and “creating a threat to the life and (or) health of persons.”[55] TheEkho Moskvy’s online editors were ordered to delete the interview from the website by Roskomnadzor. The radio station’s editor-in-chief confirmed the fine and vowed to appeal.[56]

Acts of pressuring journalists and filing charges against them for publishing information critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic have been reported in other regions of Russia as well.[57] Even bloggers who published jokes about the coronavirus on their social network pages have been investigated by the police, according to news reports.[58]

VIII. Tajikistan

On June 10, 2020, the National Assembly (legislature) of the Republic of Tajikistan unanimously approved amendments to the country’s Code of Administrative Offenses making it illegal to “use media, internet and social networks for distributing false information.”[59]  On July 4, 2020, President Emomali Rakhmon signed the amendments and they were published in the official gazette.[60]  

These amendments established administrative liability (in the form of fines and detention) for disseminating false information about the pandemic in the media and online. Individuals convicted under the adopted measures must be fined from 580 to 1.160  somoni (approximately US$56 to US$112), and legal entities (such as news outlets) must be fined from 8.700 to 11.600 somoni (approximately US$844 to US$1,124). For Tajikistan, where the average salary does not exceed US$150 per month, these are large amounts. Those convicted can also face up to 15 days in administrative detention.[61]

This measure continues the current government practice of limiting information that it deems false., a website that collects and reports data on the death rate from COVID-19, is blocked in Tajikistan.[62] The numbers shown on this website exceed official statistics. In June 2020, media reported that the Prosecutor General of Tajikistan has promised to take all necessary legal measures against those journalists who sow panic.[63] This government pressure “enhances the self-censorship both on the part of the journalists themselves and their editors. Several journalists say they are constantly being threatened by telephone and on social networks.”[64] 

IX. Ukraine

Two legislative initiatives related to media and fake news overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine¾a proposed law on disinformation that would create a special office of Information Commissioner and a proposed law on the media that would require media outlets to register with the government.

A. Draft Law on Disinformation

On November 8, 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky issued Decree No. 837-2019, on Urgent Measures to Reform and Strengthen the State, which instructed the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Information Politics to prepare legislation to regulate media standards, counter the spread of disinformation, and introduce accountability for violations of the new regulations.[65] In response the Ministry on January 20, 2020, presented the Draft Law on Disinformation, which aims to create regulations to fight the spread of disinformation and envisages the creation of a special office of Information Commissioner, to be appointed by the government, whose responsibility would be to identify “fake news” and punish those who disseminate it.[66]

The Commissioner would have the power to fine media outlets and individual journalists, bring criminal charges against them, remove published materials, and ask the courts to close media outlets. Under the provisions of the draft Law, all media, including online and social media, would be obliged to publish personal information about journalists, including their names and email addresses. Also, the draft law would give the Commissioner authority to create an electronic “trust index” for all media outlets and information providers, thus ensuring government cooperation with “trusted media” only.[67]

The draft Law also provides norms regulating the journalism profession in Ukraine. It stipulates the creation of an Association of Professional Journalists; only members of the Association would be able to obtain accreditation with governmental agencies and have access to public information events.[68]

The draft Law intends to regulate online media as well. Information platforms and messenger services would be required to collect data on users and owners and turn it over to the Information Commissioner. All organizations and users of social networks would be held responsible for the accuracy of the information they disseminate.[69]

Additionally, the draft Law would criminalize the dissemination of “fake news.” Journalists deemed to be deliberately spreading disinformation would face a minimum fine of 4.7 million UAH (approximately US$195,000) and would acquire a criminal record. Those deemed to be repeatedly spreading “fake news” would be subject to imprisonment for up to five years.[70]

B. Draft Law on the Media

On December 27, 2019, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) registered Draft Law No. 2693 on the Media.[71] The draft Law introduces the definition of “online media.” Features of online media include “[t]he regular dissemination of information, use of a separate site or page in social networks for dissemination with an individualized title and editorial control.” The draft Law envisages further fine-tuning the definition through collaboration between the National Council for TV and Radio and representatives of media outlets.[72]

Under the draft Law, all media outlets would be subject to obligatory registration, including online media platforms. The benefits of registration would include eligibility to obtain government contracts, accreditation, and participation in discussions on further legislation and regulations related to the media.[73]

Against the backdrop of Russian aggression against Ukraine, article 119 would introduce a temporary ban on information distributed by Russian media outlets.[74]

Both draft laws are currently under public debate; hearings in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are planned for Autumn 2020.

X. Uzbekistan

On March 26, 2020, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Amendments and Additions to the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Administrative Responsibility was signed by the President. [75]

Amendments introduced a new section to article 244.5 of the Criminal Code that punishes the dissemination of false information about the spread of infections subject to quarantine and other infections dangerous to humans. The amendments also increased the punishment for violating medical and quarantine procedures and established criminal liability for distributing false information related to quarantines or infectious diseases. The amended article provides for severe penalties for sharing such information in the media and on the internet. The spread of fake news in the press, on the internet, or through other media is punishable by a fine of up to the equivalent of US$10,000, compulsory community service from 300 to 360 hours, correctional labor from two to three years, restriction of freedom for up to three years, or imprisonment for up to three years.[76] The amendments also envisage administrative fines for the failure to use medical masks in public places while under quarantine.[77]

Even before the distribution of false news was formally criminalized, on March 17, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, along with the Prosecutor General’s Office and other responsible bodies, had created a working group to identify cases of disseminating false information about the coronavirus. The working group identified 33 accounts on social networks “[t]hat incorrectly interpret the situation in the country, disseminate false information, sow panic among the population, disrupt the peaceful life of citizens, and destabilize the situation. Of these, 25 accounts belonged to users abroad, and 8 to citizens of Uzbekistan.”[78]

In August 2020 the UK-based Foreign Policy Centre reported that restricting freedom of expression and freedom of the media, interrogations, investigations for reporting on pandemic-related issues, and the intimidation of journalists and bloggers are becoming the norm for Uzbekistani authorities. “The government’s attempts at controlling thoughts and sanitizing opinions through blocking, filtering and restricting social media platforms is costing the nation US$1,559,500 a day, and US$2,339,250 for throttling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” the report said.[79]

Back to Top

Prepared by Iana Fremer
Legal Research Analyst
September 2020

[1] Press Release, OSCE, COVID-19: Governments Must Promote and Protect Access to and Free Flow of Information during Pandemic, Say International Media Freedom Experts (Mar. 19, 2020),

[2] Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Decree No. 298-N on the State of Emergency of Mar. 16, 2020, (official publication, in Armenian) , (in Russian).

[3] Id. paras. 23, 24

[4] Id., para.  26.

[5] Ruzanna Stepanian, Armenian Media Deplore Restrictions on Pandemic Reporting, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Mar. 19, 2020),

[6] COVID-19 Related Media Restrictions Will Be Lifted in Armenia, Novosti-Armenia (Apr. 13, 2020), (in Russian).

[7] Armenian Activists Are Angered by Amendments to Environmental Legislation, Rossaprimavera (Apr. 5, 2020), (in Russian).

[8] Press release, President of Armenia Signed the Law  on Audiovisual Media, (official website), Aug. 5, 2020, (in Armenian).

[9] Law No. 427-Z of the Republic of Belarus on Mass Media, arts. 49-51,,  (official publication, in Russian). 

[10] Mininform Issues Internet Warning to SMI for Fakes on Coronavirus, Interfax West (Apr. 6, 2020), (in Russian).

[11] How Belarusian Officials Withhold Information about COVID-19 from the Public, The Belarusian Association of Journalists (May 28, 2020),

[12] Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, art. 369-1, last amended Nov. 23, 2019,, (official publication, in Russian).

[13] Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan No. 349-VI on Amendments and Additions to Select Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Improvement of Criminal Law Enforcement and Proceedings of June 26, 2020, (in Russian).

[14] Id. art. 6.

[15] Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan No. 342-VI, on Amendments and Additions to the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Implementation of Modern Forms of Courts’ Operation, Reduction of Excessive Court Procedures and Costs, June 10, 2020, (in Russian; scroll down for text of Law).

[16] Id. art. 187.1.

[17] Id. art. 19.

[18] Systematic Persecution of CSO Activists; Attacks on Freedom of Expression and Assembly Continue in Kazakhstan, IPHR (May 20, 2020),

[19] Id.

[20] Adil Soz, International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, Violations of Freedom of Speech in Kazakhstan (June 2020), (in Russian).

[21] Government of Kyrgyzstan curbs freedom of expression and access to information amid COVID-19, IFEX (May 5, 2020),

[22] Davion Hotam, Media Restrictions a Blow to COVID-19 Coverage, Kyrgyz Journalists Say, Voice of America (Apr. 20, 2020),

[23] Parliament of Kyrgyzstan Passes Controversial Bill on Manipulation of Information, AKIpress (June 26, 2020),

[24] Draft Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On Manipulating Information,” submitted for public discussion May 14, 2020, Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, (in Russian).

[25] Id. art. 4, para. 1., text of the Draft Law (in Russian).

[26] Id. art. 4, para. 2.

[27] Id. art. 6.

[28] Kyrgyzstan Draft Legislation Empowers Government to Block ‘False Information’ Online, Committee to Protect Journalists (June 25, 2020),

[29] Baktygul Osmonalieva, President of Kyrgyzstan Sends Law on Manipulating Information for Revision, Bishkek, (July 25, 2020),

[30] Declaration No. 55 on the State of Emergency, Chisinau, Mar. 17, 2020, (in Romanian).

[31] Provision No. 2 of the Audiovisual Council of Republic of Moldova, Mar. 24, 2020, (in Romanian).

[32] Id. para. 5.

[33] Id. paras. 5, 6.

[34] Mariana Rata, Moldovan Media Angry over Covid-19 Restrictions, Institute for Peace and War Reporting (May 2020),

[35] Id.

[36] Madalin Necsutu, Moldova Authorities Accused of Lacking Transparency about Pandemic, Balkan Insight (Mar. 23, 2020),

[37] Parliament Adopted Laws to Counter Coronavirus, State Duma of the Russian Federation (Mar. 31, 2020), (in Russian).

[38] Federal Law No. 100-FZ on the Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and Articles 31 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation of April 1, 2020, (in Russian).

[39] Id. art. 1.

[40] Id. art. 2.

[41]  Id.

[42] Federal Law No. 99-FZ on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, Apr. 1, 2020, (in Russian).

[43] Id. art. 3(3), para. 10(2).

[44] Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 358 on Amending the Regulations on the Coordination Council under the Government of the Russian Federation to Combat the Spread of New Coronavirus Infections in the Russian Federation, Mar. 27, 2020, (in Russian).

[45] Roskomnadzor Warns about Liability for Spreading False Information, Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Mar. 18, 2020), (in Russian).

[46] Press Release, Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, A Preliminary Inquiry is Underway in Moscow in Connection with the Spread of Inaccurate Information Regarding the Number of Cases of Coronavirus Infection in Russia (Mar. 18, 2020), (in Russian).

[47] Id.

[48] The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (MVD) Recalls Responsibility for the Dissemination of Fake Information, Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (Mar. 23, 2020), (in Russian).

[49] Pavel Chikov, Russian Authorities Launch Nearly 200 Prosecutions for ‘Fake News’ during Coronavirus Pandemic, Meduza (June 15, 2020),

[50] Stanislav Seleznev, Agora International Human Rights Group, The Fake News ‘Infodemic’: The Fight against Coronavirus as a Threat to Freedom of Speech , 6-7 (June 10, 2020),

[51] Roskomnadzor Deleted or Blocked 172 Resources under the Law on Fakes in 2020, TASS (Apr. 15, 2020), (in Russian).

[52] Prosecutor General’s Office Demanded to Block Novaya Gazeta’s Article on the Situation with Coronavirus in Chechnya, (Apr. 16, 2020),

[53] Prosecutor General’s Office Demanded to Block Novaya Gazeta’s Article on the Situation with Coronavirus in Chechnya, Novaya Gazeta (Apr. 15, 2020), (in Russian).

[54] Russia Fines Opposition Radio Station for Fake News, The Spokesman-Review (June 19, 2020),

[55] Echo Moskvy May Appeal against Roskomnadzor’s Request to Remove the Fake from the Site, Interfax (Mar. 20, 2020), (in Russian).

[56] Prosecutor General’s Office Demanded to Remove Eight Fakes about Coronavirus, Interfax (Mar. 20, 2020),

[57] See., e.g., Tomsk Journalist Was Charged Second Time for an Article about Spread of Coronavirus in City Morgues which was Recognized as Fake, (July 9, 2002),; Police Filed a Violation Report against Radio Liberty under Law on Fake News, (July 27, 2020), (both in Russian).  

[58] Investigation Committee Initiated a Case against a Blogger Who Made a Video that Coronavirus Is a Masonic Conspiracy, (Apr. 8, 2020), (in Russian).

[59] Strengthening the Requirements for Compliance with Anti-sanitary and Hygienic and Epidemiological Rules and Regulations, Majlisi Namoyandagon of Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan (June 10, 2020), (in Tajik).

[60] Law No. 33 of the Republic of Tajikistan on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Tajikistan, Official Gazette Ҷумҳуриyят, July 4, 2020, (in Tajik).

[61] Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Tajikistan art. 374(1), adopted Dec. 31, 2008, No. 455, as amended July 7, 2020, (in Russian).

[62] The Authorities Are Not Happy about This. Tajikistan Has Two Statistics on Coronavirus, Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting,, (June 9, 2020), (in Russian).

[63] Sertan Sanderson, Press Freedom in Tajikistan: Going from Bad to Worse, Global Media Forum, Deutsche Welle (June 5, 2020),

[64] Id.

[65] Decree of the President of Ukraine, No. 837, on Urgent Measures to Reform and Strengthen the State, Nov. 8, 2019, (in Ukrainian).

[66] Draft Law on Disinformation, Presentation by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Information Politics of Ukraine (Jan. 2020), (in Ukrainian).

[67] Id.

[68] Id.

[69] Id.

[70] Id.

[71] Draft Law on the Media, Parliament of Ukraine (July 2, 2020), (in Ukrainian).

[72] Id. art. 2.

[73] Id.

[74] Id. art. 5.

[75] Law No. 613 of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Amendments and Additions to the Criminal, Criminal Procedure Codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Administrative Offences of Mar. 26, 2020,

[76] Id. art. 1, para. 1.

[77] Code of the Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Uzbekistan, approved by the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on  Sept. 22, 1994, No. 2015-XII, as amended on July 21, 2020, art. 54,

[78] Ministry of Internal Affairs Identifies 33 Accounts on Social Networks that Disseminate False Information about Coronavirus Cases in Uzbekistan, KUN.UZ (Mar. 18, 2020),

[79] Dilmira Matyakubova, Behind the Glitter: The Pandemic and Civil Freedoms in Uzbekistan, Foreign Policy Centre (Aug. 14, 2020),

Last Updated: 12/30/2020