Russia restricts access to Germany's Bild website

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Russia said on Sunday said it had restricted access to the website of Germany's Bild at the request of prosecutors, a step the Berlin-based tabloid said underscored the integrity of its reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's communications watchdog said on its website that it was blocking access to the website by people inside Russia after a March 26 request from prosecutors.

It was not immediately clear why prosecutors asked for the restriction. The prosecutor general's office could not be reached for comment outside normal business hours.

"The blocking of by the Russian censors confirms us in our journalistic work for democracy, freedom and human rights," Bild editor-in-chief Johannes Boie said on its website.

"And it encourages us to give Russian citizens even more opportunities to inform themselves with news and facts beyond Russian government propaganda."

A week after Feb. 24 invasion, Russia passed a law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally "fake" news about the military.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on March 18 denied a Bild report that asserted his plane had turned around and returned to Moscow while on the way to China.

"We understood long ago that there is no such thing as an independent Western media," Lavrov told Russia's RT on that day. Lavrov specifically mentioned the Bild report as an example of what Russia calls the West's "empire of lies."

President Vladimir Putin said on March 16 Russia was the victim of a global information war.

"An unprecedented information war has been launched in which global social networks and all Western media are involved," he said. "We understand the resources this empire of lies has, but it is still powerless against truth and justice."

Putin says Moscow's actions in Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation", were necessary because NATO's enlargement threatened Russia, and Moscow needed to save Russian-speaking people in Ukraine from oppression.

Ukraine dismisses Moscow's claims about the persecution of Russian speakers as a pretext for the invasion and casts it as a Russian effort to expand its hegemony in the region.

Reporting by Reuters Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.