In xenophobic language reminiscent of Soviet times, a government policy document signed by President Vladimir Putin warns of "information weapons" allegedly used against Russia by unidentified foreign powers and calls for tighter controls over media.
The document, called the Information Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation, has immediately come under criticism from journalists and media rights advocates.
"Putin is being driven by his KGB instincts," Ruslan Gorevoi, an activist with the Glasnost Defense Foundation, said in reference to Putin's 16-year career in the Soviet secret police. "Now he wants to apply his KGB colonel's skills to the president's job."
The document, signed by Putin on Monday and posted on the government's Website, outlines a long list of threats to the government and public in the sphere of media and information. Subversive activity by foreigners ranks high.
It accuses unnamed foreign powers of plotting to "infringe on Russia's interests in the global information space" and even working out concepts of "information wars" with the aim of "hampering the normal operation of the information and telecommunication systems." It claims that foreign media organizations are trying to squeeze Russians out of the news market and suggests that their activities in Russia be checked more carefully.
The document was vaguely worded and doesn't have legal force, but was regarded by press freedom advocates as a disturbing sign of the thinking prevalent in the government and its bureaucracies, whose actions can be more important than legislation.