Russia bans smartphones soldiers, over social media fears

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Russia bans smartphones soldiers, over social media fears.

RUSSIAN soldiers have been banned from taking selfies after reporters used social media to prove they were fighting in covert operations in Ukraine and Syria.

MPs in Moscow’s Duma parliament voted to stop troops using smartphones or having electronic recording devices while on duty. Vladimir Putin must now approve the “gadgets law”, which says soldiers can’t carry devices that share photographs, video or “geotagging” location data. Under the move, Russian soldiers are forbidden from telling the media their whereabouts, activity or identity. Journalists have used troops’ online posts to show soldiers had died in battle despite the Russian defence ministry not acknowledging the deaths.

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The media reports discredited Mr Putin’s claims that no Russian squaddies are fighting in Syria.

Vladimir Bogodukhov, a member of the Duma’s military committee, said: “We are defenceless, as long as our information is not protected from our so-called partners.

“The goal of this legislation is not to complicate the lives of servicemen, but to secure their safety from exposure.”

Investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat has used using soldiers’ social-media profiles to identify the Russian missile launcher that shot down the MH17 passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.

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“The goal of this legislation is not to complicate the lives of servicemen, but to secure their safety from exposure.”

Investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat has used using soldiers’ social-media profiles to identify the Russian missile launcher that shot down the MH17 passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.

Nationalist MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky believes the ban on troops using smartphones is needed to stop western secret services examining Russian soldiers’ social media accounts.

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Servicemen should be given an army intranet instead, he claimed.

Alexander Sherin, deputy chairman of the Duma’s defence committee, warned soldiers will be “punished” if they posted photos revealing their location wile fighting.

In 2014, Mr Putin claimed Russians fighting in eastern Ukraine were volunteers. But journalists used social-media posts to show Russian troops were battling Ukrainian forces.

One reporter, Vice News’s Simon Ostrovsky, tracked a soldier from Siberia to a battlefield in Debaltseve, east Ukraine.

The soldier shared a photo of himself on the Vkontakte social networking site.

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