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Russia bans calling its war a war

Parliament’s preferred term for its invasion of Ukraine is “special military operation.”

What unfreedom in Vladimir Putin’s Russia looks like, Chapter 92; or “War? What war? No war. It’s an SMO.”

According to this morning’s New York Times, the Russian Parliament rushed through a law on Friday, with an effective date of Saturday to make it a crime for any media organization to refer to what Russia’s military is doing in Ukraine as a “war.”

The Kremlin has designated its invasion, occupation, shelling and other murderous activities in Ukraine as a “special military operation” (SMO.)

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The law criminalizes non-sanctioned terminology, apparently including words like “invasion” or “war,” in any media account. It apparently applies to those discussing the SMO in a news article or broadcast or even just on social media.

Violators may face up to 15 years in prison.

In response, some existing news organizations have chosen to stop covering the war — make that the “SMO” — and deleting from their websites former references using the forbidden terms. Others have just shut down to play it extra-safe.

For more details on what Russian media (including individuals just engaging in online chatter) can and can’t say, the full New York Times piece can be accessed here.