Russian authorities have blocked the websites that are critical of President Vladimir Putin’s policies, including those run by well-known Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny and world famous chess star Garry Kasparov.
The prosecutor general’s office in Russia ordered Russian ISPs to block grani.ru and ej.ru too. It said the websites “contain calls for illegal activity and participation in mass events conducted in violation of the established order”.
A recent law that took effect on 1st of February allows state organs to force service provides to cut the connection to online pages that “advocate extremism and call for unauthorized public gatherings”.
The implementation of the Law has increased recently due to rising opposition to Russia’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Moscow has banned 13 Ukrainian activist websites hosted by Russia’s largest social networking platform Vkontakte.
Navalny’s spokesperson Anna Veduta tweeted that “this is the latest political step on the way to cleanse the media space”. In his tweet, Kasparov said “not only did Putin block access to opposition news sites in Russia, but Rus govt contacted our admin to turn off servers”. Last week, Lenta.ru, one of the most popular independent news sites in Russia was forced to replace its head with a pro-Putin journalist after it published an interview with an Ukrainian nationalist leader. The shuffle led 39 of 84 employees of the site resign.
The Kremlin denies any kind of censorship or pressure on the media, often cites “measures necessary to preserve public order”.