Russia moves to ban troops from using smartphones
Moscow, Feb 12, 2019 (AFP) - Russian lawmakers on Tuesday backed a bill
that would ban soldiers from using smartphones while on duty to post online or
give information to media.
The move comes after journalists have used photos and videos posted on
social media by troops to gain information on Russia's military involvement in
Syria and in Ukraine -- where Kiev and its Western allies say Moscow gives
military backing to pro-Russian separatists.
The Russian military has long sought to limit troops' use of social media
to avoid information leaks.
The Meduza independent news site wrote that with the bill "we will know
less about hazing and the military in Ukraine."
The defence committee of the State Duma lower house of parliament, which
wrote the legislation, said it aimed to ensure "national security" in the
"sphere of information" and to cover information that is not classed as a
The bill bans troops from carrying "electronic devices" that can post video
and photos online or reveal their geo-locations.
It bans troops, conscripts and reservists from informing media or putting
information online that reveals they or others are in the military, describes
their duties or gives their location.
It also bans giving out information about the actions of military
commanders or the locations of military headquarters.
MPs in the State Duma voted on the key second reading of the bill, which
will be followed by a final reading, a senate vote and then a signing by
President Vladimir Putin.
The bill warns that foreign secret services and "terrorist" organisations
are interested in the activities of Russian troops, particularly those serving
in Syria, where Russia has been carrying out a military intervention since
2015 to back President Bashar al-Assad.
It says that information posted online or given to media could be used to
form a "prejudiced view of Russia's government policies."
Soldiers who broke the law could be given early discharge.
Basic mobile phones without cameras will not be banned, and troops will
still be able to use smartphones while off-duty, the first deputy chief of the
defence committee, Andrei Krasov told TASS state news agency.