According to this article, Putin has signed two laws that further limit freedom of expression (law source):
Two new laws in Russia jeopardize the privacy and security of internet users and aim to further control Russians’ freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today.
The legislation, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on July 30, 2017, bans anonymous use of online messenger applications and prohibits the use of software to allow users to circumvent internet censorship. The new laws are part of Russia’s widespread crackdown on online expression, in violation of human rights law and democratic safeguards.
This is not something new according to this article:
Since 2012, the Russian authorities have intensified a crackdown on freedom of expression, selectively casting certain kinds of criticism of the government as threats to state security and public stability and introducing significant restrictions to online expression and invasive surveillance of online activity.
While new restrictions on freedom of expression appear to target political opposition or civic groups, they affect all Russians. Curbing free speech denies a voice to anyone dissatisfied with the ongoing economic crisis or even mildly critical of Russia’s foreign policy.
However, according to Telegraph, Putin seems to be a very popular leader, popularity that might be envied by other important leaders such as Donald Trump or Theresa May:
Russian President Vladimir Putin is viewed favourably by a big majority of his citizens, according to new research.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 87 per cent of Russians have confidence in Putin’s ability to do the right thing on world affairs.
The immense support bestowed upon him is a notch higher than many other politicians, making him one of the most popular leaders in the world.
Question: So, if the Russian regime is so popular, why does it need to invest into limiting freedom of expression?
Those against it represent a rather small minority that does not seem to pose a serious danger to the current regime.