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Russian Bill Sharply Restricting Social Media Use Is Submitted To Duma

Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov (file photo)
Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov (file photo)

A bill that would bar children under 14 from social networks and place other restrictions on Internet use has been submitted to Russia's parliament, but a lukewarm reception from the Kremlin appeared to cloud its prospects for passage.

Controversial State Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov's draft law, submitted to the lower house on April 10, would require users accessing social networks to present identification documents in order to prove their age.

It would also bar the use of social media to organize public gatherings that are not sanctioned by the authorities and propose a ban on the use of social media at state companies and offices.

Political analysts say the use of social media to spread ideas, opinions, and information about planned protests has unnerved the Kremlin, which reined in traditional broadcast media shortly after President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

But state-run news agency TASS quoted Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying on April 10 that while Kremlin officials had not seen the bill itself, aspects of it that he has read about in the media were "not very realistic."

Peskov did not specify which proposals he had seen.

At the same time, the state-funded Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) said on April 10 that an opinion poll it conducted showed 62 percent of Russians aged 18 to 24 support the idea of barring children under 14 from social networks.

Kremlin-watchers say Putin and his government sometimes have allies submit bills that appear too controversial for passage and subsequently support separate legislation containing some of the proposals from the rejected draft.

Milonov is a member of the Kremlin-controlled United Russia party who is known for what critics say are antigay and anti-Semitic remarks.

He was the author of a local version of a 2013 law barring the spread of gay "propaganda" among minors that has been widely criticized by Western governments and rights groups.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

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