MOSCOW, May 16 (RAPSI) – Popular Russian bloggers who post on Russian websites and write in one of the languages used by Russian nationals are subject to the new ‘Bloggers Law’ even if they live abroad, a government official told Izvestia on Friday.

“This law is executed based on facts other than the person’s official place of residence registered in their passport,” Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of the Roskomnadzor mass media watchdog, said. “If someone writes in Russian or another language used in Russia, targeting Russian audiences and using Russian web resources, they will have to comply with the new requirements.”

However, the law does not call for any additional financial allocations or special expert staff, the daily quoted him as saying. The new legislation actually formalizes the definition of ‘blogger’ and categorizes them as entities distributing information, who, as such, have a specific set of rights and are subject to certain requirements. These requirements are close to those that media outlets have to comply with.

On May 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that requires individuals whose blogs attract a daily audience of more than 3,000 visitors to take on full responsibilities of mass media professionals.

Notably, the law obliges the owners of personal websites and social networking pages with a daily audience of more than 3,000 visitors to check the reliability of information, to act in accordance with election campaign rules (pre-election silence, a ban on publishing poll results in the last five days before voting day), not to publish private information about other people, and to indicate age limits for users.

The most popular personal websites would have to be registered with the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), which would notify users of their obligation to comply with the provisions of the law on the media.

Bloggers who will fail to comply with these rules would face fines up to 500,000 rubles ($14,410). Finally, bloggers would have to pay taxes on their advertising income, which is currently not controlled and hence not taxable.

On the next day after the bill was adopted, popular blog platform LiveJournal said it would no longer display the number of subscribers a blog had if the figure exceeded 2,500.