Moscow | Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved changes to the law that governs presidential elections putting new restrictions on media coverage, local news agencies reported on Tuesday.
The changes come ahead of the election to be held in March in which Putin, who has ruled Russia for the last 24 years, is expected to seek a new six-year term.
Putin, 71, has not declared whether he will run, saying he will announce that only after the parliament formally sets the election date.
Under the amendments that he approved, only journalists contractually employed by registered media outlets will be allowed to cover election commission meetings, potentially barring freelancers and independent journalists.
The changes also include barring any coverage of the commission's actions on military bases or in areas under martial law without prior permission of regional and military authorities.
In addition, the changes prohibit campaign activity on “blocked resources”. Under an intensifying crackdown on opposition and information flow, Russia has banned an array of websites and services including Facebook and Instagram, although many people use VPNs to circumvent the blockage.