Week-ending 12 March 2021
On 10 March 2021 Roskomnadzor, the government’s media watchdog, issued a statement saying that since 2017 Twitter had failed to delete content deemed by the Russian authorities as influencing minors to commit suicide, containing child pornography and information about using narcotic substances. Roskomnadzor stated that as a result Twitter had been listed as representing a threat to the Russian Federation in accordance with Federal Law No. 149-FZ ‘On Information, Information Technology and the Protection of Information’ and therefore measures would be taken to slow down the platorm’s speed. If Twitter did not remove the offending content, Roskomnadzor said it would take further measures, including the blocking of Twitter. Federal Law 149-FZ was adopted on 27 July 2006.
‘Роскомнадзор принял меры по защите российских граждан от влияния противоправного контента,’ Roskomnadzor, 10 March 2021
Federal Law No. 149-FZ ‘On Information, Information Technology and the Protection of Information’, Konsul’tantPlus
The Moscow Times, 10 March 2021: Russia’s media watchdog has announced Wednesday first steps to throttle Twitter for failing to remove banned content by intentionally disrupting the platform’s speed within the country. “Starting March 10, 2021, centralized response measures have been taken against Twitter to protect Russian citizens and force the internet service to comply with Russian legislation,” Roskomnadzor said Wednesday. Roskomnadzor said it slowed down Twitter on all Russian cellphones and half of its desktops.
The Guardian, 10 March 2021: Russia took action on Tuesday to slow down the speed of Twitter in a move that also appeared to have accidentally shut down the Kremlin’s own website, as well as other government agency sites. The state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said it was retaliating for Twitter’s alleged failure to remove banned content. It threatened a total block if the US platform did not comply with its deletion demands. The punitive move was aimed at video content on Twitter, the regulator said, and would affect all mobile devices and half of non-mobile users. Twitter’s text-based services were working normally on Wednesday.
The Moscow Times, 11 March 2021: Russia’s telecommunications watchdog said Thursday that Twitter had still not deleted more than 3,000 posts containing illegal content after Moscow began disrupting Twitter’s services in the country. On Wednesday, Roskomnadzor said it began slowing down the US social media giant’s work in Russia, saying Twitter failed to comply with its requests to delete content related to child pornography, drug use and calls for minors to commit suicide. “As of March 11, 2021, more than 3,100 publications containing banned information have not been deleted,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement on Thursday.
RFE/RL, 12 March 2021: When Russia announced it was slowing down Twitter access this week, citing the social network’s alleged failure to delete objectionable material, it was seen as a sign that the Kremlin was acting on repeated threats to bring the Internet under control. “This will make all other social networks and major foreign web companies understand that Russia won’t continue to silently watch as our laws are flouted,” a lawmaker who co-authored laws legalizing the move told reporters. But the initiative appeared to badly backfire when users across the country began reporting that a host of government websites, including the homepages of the Kremlin and Interior Ministry, were temporarily down. Just months ago, authorities halted a failed two-year push to block the Telegram messaging app that had led to the disabling of 16 million IP addresses on Amazon’s and Google’s cloud platforms and prompted ridicule from tech experts worldwide.
RFE/RL, 8 March 2021: A senior Russian lawmaker has blasted Facebook after the social-media giant said it had blocked articles by Russian news agencies claiming police last month arrested Ukrainian nationalists after experts concluded the radicals were Russian. Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, said on March 8 that Facebook had violated the rights of Russian citizens through a move that was tantamount to “digital lawlessness.”
RSF, 10 March 2021: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Russian federal authorities to protect the editor of a local online newspaper in Kiselyovsk, her hometown in southwestern Siberia’s Kemerovo region, after threats and attacks forced her to flee. The attacks are unacceptable and must be investigated, RSF says.
CPJ, 9 March 2021: On March 3, 2021, the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow sentenced Ilya Azar, a correspondent for the liberal Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, to 15 days of detention and a fine of 150,000 rubles (US$2,014) for allegedly organizing illegal protests on Facebook, according to newsreports and a statement from his employer. On March 5, the Moscow City Court rejected Azar’s appeal and said it would keep him in custody to serve his detention, according to newsreports.
CPJ, 8 March 2021: Russian authorities should drop all charges against journalist Aleksey Mironov and allow the press to cover protests and other political events without fear, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On March 5, police in Cheboksary, the capital of the central Russian autonomous republic of Chuvashia, detained Mironov, a freelance camera operator, at his home, and brought him to the city’s First Police Station for questioning, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview. Officers interrogated Mironov for about four hours about his alleged participation in a January 23 rally in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, he said. Mironov told CPJ that he covered that rally on assignment for the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), as the broadcaster also reported.