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Anti-Putin campaigners ‘using adult sites to show Russians truth about Ukraine’

As Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on access to independent news and information in Russia, campaigners have turned to using porn sites to get their anti-war messages across.

Russia recently introduced fake news legislation, a group of federal laws prohibiting the dissemination of information considered "unreliable" by Russian authorities, which many condemn as a tool to control criticism of the state.

A jail term of up to 15 years is the punishment for spreading intentionally "fake" news about the military.

READ MORE: Bikini model who posed on tank forced to flee Ukraine after bone-chilling threat

To combat this Marina Ovsyannikova, a CEO at a Ukrainian digital marketing company, began buying ad space across websites in Russia and Belarus, linking to independent news on the war in Ukraine.

As Russia's fake news laws made the bigger sites like Google and Youtube harder to use for her ploy, Ovsyannikova moved "into a darker realm", as the Guardian put it.

The campaigner bought up ad space on online gambling and pornography sites, using money raised through fundraisers.

The sites proved to be a good platform due to the lack of moderation, huge audiences and "people behind them whose allegiances were with the highest bidder," Jemimah Steinfeld, editor-in-chief of Index on Censorship, wrote for the Guardian.

"If all else failed she’d try to take on Putin through porn."

Russian Channel One editor Ovsyannikova made headlines when she held a poster reading "Stop the war. Don't believe the propaganda. Here they are lying to you" during an on-air broadcast of Russia's most-watched evening news show.

“Informational resistance works,” said Anastasiya Baydachenko, who is part of a larger network of people employing the same method.

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Rob Blackie, one of the directors of Free Russia – a campaign to bring independent news about the war to Russians through ads – said that from Putin’s perspective he’s running “a criminal spam operation”.

Steinfeld warned that Putin's censorship "machine" is "fast catching up" with that of Xi Jinping in China.

"But allow us a moment to rejoice in the image of people in Russia visiting porn sites only to be served the naked truth about the Ukraine war. If anything deserves to be called a 'special operation', it’s surely that," he added.


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