More than 3000 websites subject to military censorship
Roskomsvoboda (05.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3AwGlR7 – Access to the vast majority of them was limited at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office, but there are also isolated court decisions, and the list of blocked widely includes the websites of major news publications, social networks, public organizations, and even trade and IT companies.
During the monitoring of the register of prohibited information, Roskomsvoboda found out that the number of sites subject to military censorship exceeded 3,000. Restriction of access to a variety of Internet resources occurred not only after the adoption of the relevant law, but almost from the very beginning of the so-called “special military operation” of the Russian army on the territory of Ukraine.
The main initiator of entering the relevant information in the register of prohibited was the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, but in isolated cases several regional courts participated in this process.
A wide variety of Internet resources, such as social networks, were blocked:
- Facebook (together with its messenger);
In addition, the owner of the last two social networks – Meta – was recognized as an “extremist organization. After that, many Russian sites, even before filing and considering the appeal, decided to remove the Facebook repost button (sometimes also Instagram), previously posted under their news.
Many large news agencies and TV channels, both world and regional, were under a military censorship blow, and Echo of Moscow, Novaya Gazeta and Dozhdy had to stop their activities altogether. The same fate befell the Yekaterinburg edition of Znak.com. Later, Novaya launched the Novaya Gazeta Europe project, but most recently it was also subjected to military censorship.
At different times, according to different decisions of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the following were blocked:
- student magazine DOXA;
- almost all Radio Liberty projects;
- “Mediazona” (main and Central Asian sites);
- “Voice of America”;
- Bellingcat research project;
- “7×7. Horizontal Russia”;
- journalist Alexander Nevzorov’s website;
- “People of Baikal”;
- Jooble job website;
- “Polygon. Media”;
- one of the most popular chess sites chess.com;
- “Caucasian Knot”;
- “Present time”;
- Deutsche Welle (DW);
- German newspaper Bild;
- Human Rights Watch (HRW);
- popular Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat;
- WikiArt online encyclopedia of fine arts;
- The Moscow Times;
- website with cartoons about Masyanya.
And this is far from a complete list of sites blocked by military censorship. Some Internet resources were entered entirely and even by “mask”, that is, with all domains and subdomains. Many people blocked only individual links, but since access restriction occurred via HTTPS, it was impossible to go to the entire site at once.
As we said earlier, the Prosecutor General’s Office is the undisputed leader in the number of blockages based on the requirements of military censorship, but courts in the regions have also joined this process. Thus, the Central District Court of Kaliningrad blocked the website of one of the largest news networks in the Baltic States – Delfi. Blocking is also carried out by “mask”.
Sometimes the application of censorship to various services is very difficult to explain. For example, we have repeatedly noticed how online cinemas and pirate sites are massively included in the register of prohibited. We assume that at one time information of a pro-Ukrainian nature was published there, as well as appeals to the world community about the “special operation”, or buttons were placed with a request to donate Ukrainian volunteers. By the way, the sites of the latter were also included in the register of prohibited.
Many websites of trading and IT companies have been banned. For example, most recently there was a site for the sale of child car seats, as well as an online service for testing and developing email campaigns of emails sent from the developer’s servers, Mailtrap. The reason is still the same – the publication of information about Ukrainian events that does not coincide with the official point of view.
One of the loudest was the blocking of the official website of the popular game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 for the same reason. By the way, the restriction of access to this site, as well as chess.com, caused a great resonance in the media, including foreign ones. The same situation happened with WikiArt. Users and journalists from all over the world are perplexed when reading such news, but unfortunately, we have ceased to be very surprised by this kind of censorship.
Blocking is not always the end of an unpleasant story. Unfortunately, often the owners of certain sites are persecuted in real life, administrative and even criminal cases are opened on them.
Thus, the Dorogomilovsky District Court sentenced four ex-DOXA editors to 2 years of correctional labor and 3 years of banning the administration of sites. However, this has been going on since April last year and it is not related to military censorship – then the editorial office of the student magazine published a video in support of students and schoolchildren who were subjected to pressure in universities and schools because of participation in protests. Together with the already “special operational” blocking of their site, all this can be considered as an attempt to squeeze DOXA out of the Russian public field.
Vologda politician Yevgeny Domozhirov, whose site was blocked in early April, was forced to leave Russia. Recently, he received six calls to draw up protocols in the case of discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which was caused by publications in social networks.
The story with the prohibition of materials on Neczoro’s website also received an offline continuation. A case was opened against the journalist, and recently he himself was declared a foreign agent and wanted. Nevzorov is accused of disseminating false information about the Russian army. The journalist himself is currently outside Russia.
“These guys should not look for me, but should look for their brains for themselves,” Nevzorov commented on the search for himself.
Another interesting feature of blocking for reasons of military censorship is their doubling, that is, when the same site is entered twice in the register of prohibited, but on the basis of different decisions of the Prosecutor General’s Office. This fate befell, for example:
- “Caucasian Knot”;
- Taiga.Info website;
- The New Times;
- and so on.
Some of these and other Internet resources have already filed lawsuits for the blocking to be lifted, but some owners fear that the second decision was made in case the court suddenly takes the side of the publication, not the Prosecutor General’s Office, although such an outcome is unlikely.
The supervisory authority is trying to make mirrors of news sites no less quickly. Most often these are projects of the above-mentioned Radio Liberty. For example:
As you can see, only these services already have several hundred blocked resources.
In relations with information resources, the Russian authorities demonstrate the same policy as with regard to the statements of Runet users. The Russian state is extremely painful about the critical opinion, so the pace of entering alternative information into the register of prohibited information is so intense. This also coincides with the disappointing conclusion reached by Reporters Without Borders – military censorship has been introduced in Russia, and the information space has been taken under total control by the authorities. Unfortunately, the criteria for recognizing information as prohibited are also constantly tightening, and in its current form they are applied in a completely unpredictable way.
We talk about the “freshest” blocks almost daily in our Telegram channel, marking with the hashtag #RKS_blocking. From there, you can quickly find out which new sites fell out of favor with the Russian authorities.
Previous review on military censorship: https://roskomsvoboda.org/post/ban-1500-ssylok
Novaya Gazeta was fined 300,000 rubles about a video on the war in Ukraine (06.07.2022)
The court in Moscow declared it legal to block the Medusa website (05.07.2022)
Roskomnadzor blocked the website of the publication “Scat Media” (04.07.2022)