Melon Farmers Original Version

Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s

Russia and its repressive state control of media


Funding Putin's laying waste of Ukraine...


Link Here 19th July 2022
Russia has fined Google 21.1bn rouble ($373m) for failing to restrict access to material about the war in Ukraine that Russia does not like.

Roskomnadzor, the country's communications regulator, cited information that discredited Russia's military and posts urging people to protest.

Google's local subsidiary declared bankruptcy last month. The move came after Russian authorities seized its local bank account to extract 7.2bn roubles that the firm had been ordered to pay for similar reasons last year.

The fine was calculated as a share of the firm's local revenue, marks the biggest penalty ever imposed on a tech company in Russia, according to state media.

Surely the fine can't be paid lest it gets used to kill and maime people of Ukraine.



A war against truth...

Russian internet censors take action against Tor and VPNs

Link Here 5th June 2022
Authorities in Russia have confirmed a that a new crackdown to prevent citizens from accessing VPN services is underway. Internet censor Roscomnadzor says that measures are being taken to limit access to VPN services that violate Russian law, ie providing access to content previously deemed illegal by the government.

Just like the UK, Russia introduced its internet censorship law claiming it to be a measure to ensure the safety of its citizens online. The Extremist Websites Blocking Law created a national blacklist for ISPs to block access to banned websites.

Over the last decade Russia has introduced more laws to expand its blocking powers to encompass pirate streaming sites and torrent portals, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any news sites that stray from the Kremlin's definition of factual reporting.

In response, citizens got accustomed to unblocking unlicensed media sites using their VPN and Tor skills to get an unrestricted view of the world. Russia responded by placing strict rules on VPN servers in Russia and then via the VPN Law, outlawing internet tools that enable access to illegal information.

Russia has been using its anti-VPN legislation to remove hundreds of thousands of VPN-related links from Google and since the invasion of Ukraine, has stepped up the pace . Tor is also in the middle of a blocking drama and now faces a court battle .

Over the past few days, Russian VPN users reported fresh issues when trying to access well-known providers such as NordVPN, which does not even have servers in Russia. Problems were also experienced when accessing Switzerland-based Proton VPN, peer-to-peer censorship circumvention tool Lantern, Windscribe, and related services including VPN creation tool Outline .

In a statement to local media, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor reiterated that website unblocking tools are illegal and measures are being taken to limit access to them.



Onion tears...

Tor appeals against blocking by the Russian internet censor

Link Here24th January 2022
US-based Tor Project and Russian digital-rights protection org RosKomSvoboda are appealing a Russian court's decision to block access to public Tor nodes and the project's website.

The Tor Project operates the Tor decentralized network, which runs on top of the Internet, allowing users to bypass censorship, access websites anonymously, and visit special Onion URLs (.onion) accessible only over Tor.

In December, the Tor Project announced that Russia blocked their website and various public Tor nodes used to connect to the decentralized network in regions of Russia.

RosKomSvoboda and Tor believe that the court's decision to block the Tor Project's website and infrastructure is illegal for the following reasons:

  • The case was considered without the participation of the representatives of Tor, which violated their procedural rights and the adversarial nature of the process;
  • The decision violates the constitutional right to freely provide, receive and disseminate information and protect privacy.
For now, Russian users can bypass the country's censorship of the website using a mirror site hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation at . Volunteers have also contributed over 1,000 additional Tor bridges that are not currently blocked, allowing Russian people to access the Tor network and counter government censorship.



Russia tries to block VPNs...

Internet censor targets NordVPN, ExpressVPN and IPVanish

Link Here 14th September 2021
Earlier this month Russian internet censor Roscomnadzor said it would begin blocking VPN providers including NordVPN, ExpressVPN and IPVanish to prevent access to information the government wishes to censor. It now appears that multiple online services have been disrupted including BitTorrent and Twitch, with multiple parties pointing the finger towards Russia's blocking tools.

After making broad threats against a range of services in 2019, Russia made good on its warnings by blocking two providers, VyprVPN and OperaVPN. Then, earlier this month, Roscomnadzor said it would block several more including Nord VPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Hola! VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, and Speedify VPN.

In advance of blocking the providers listed above, Russia reached out to the banking sector to ensure that any blocking wouldn't hurt their activities. According to Roscomnadzor, it received responses from 64 industry organizations, 27 of which use the mentioned VPN connections to support 33 technological processes. More than 100 IP addresses were presented in order to exclude them from access restriction policies.

After the new blockades came into effect, multiple online services reported that they were suffering connectivity issues. According to a Kommersant report, these include the game World of Tanks, gaming streaming service Twitch, FlashScore (a service used to access football scores and results), and even BitTorrent transfers.



Blocking democracy...

Russian internet censors ban 6 VPNs in an attempt to silence the opposition in the run up to elections

Link Here 4th September 2021
Russia's internet censor Roskomnadzor has blocked six providers of virtual private networks (VPNs), which people can use to circumvent government website blocking.

The targeted VPN providers, include the widely used Nord VPN and Express VPN.

The move, announced on September 3, comes as Russian authorities tighten control of the Internet, blocking access to dozens of websites ahead of parliamentary elections this month.

The Russian censor justified the new restrictions by saying that VPNs allow access to blocked content created conditions for illegal activities, including those related to the distribution of drugs, child pornography, extremism, and suicidal tendencies.



Ofcom's mentor...

Russia's internet censor fines Twitter for not locally storing details of Russian tweets

Link Here 11th June 2021
Russia's internet censor the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has fined Twitter four million rubles ($55,840) for non-compliance with Russian internet censorship laws. In particular Twitter did not localize the databases of its Russian users.

An official  specified that since 2015, the social network stored more than 6,000 prohibited pieces of content. After the application of measures to slow down the traffic of the social network, 490 pieces [of prohibited content] remain undeleted.



Throttled into submission...

Twitter censors enough posts to keep Russia's internet censor happy

Link Here 17th May 2021
Russia's internet censor Roskomnadzor has decided against completely blocking Twitter. The censor reports that after 2 months of having Twitter traffic throttled, Twitter has taken down 91% of posts notified by Roskomnadzor.

Roskomnadzor said that Twitter traffic will no longer be slowed down on fixed networks and associated Wi-Fi networks. The social network's traffic will still be throttled on mobile devices, however.

In addition, RKN said it has identified illegal materials posted on other platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. In the event that these platforms don't take the appropriate measures, similar sanctions may be applied to them, the censorship agency warned.



Offsite Article: Using copyright tools for censorship...

Link Here 22nd April 2021
Instagram has found a way to wind up Russia by blocking posts featuring the Russian national anthem

See article from



Updated: Tweet that!...

Twitter has to decide whether to bow to Russian internet censors

Link Here7th April 2021
Russian internet censors have issued three fines to Twitter totaling 8.9 million rubles (about $117,000) for the website's refusal to remove content that encouraged people to join unauthorized protests.

Twitter has 60 days to pay.

Russian authorities last month made content on Twitter slower to load, accusing the service of failing to take down posts related to drug use, pornography and other banned topics. On March 16, Russia's internet censor threatened to fully block the service within a month if it doesn't delete flagged content.

Update: TikTok too

7th April 2021. See article from

A Russian court has fined the video sharing platform TikTok for failing to remove content that allegedly incited minors to participate in unsanctioned protests in Moscow, reports the Russian state news agency TASS.

The 2.5-million ruble ($32,375) fine was handed down by a magistrate on charges of violating the procedure for restricting access to information that is prohibited under Russian law.

In late January, representatives of the social networks TikTok, Facebook, Telegram, and VKontakte were summoned to Russia's federal censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, over content calling for participation in the demonstrations in support of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny that took place across Russia on January 23. Roskomnadzor initially reported that the social networks were actively removing this content. However, the censorship agency later announced that not all of the prohibited information had been blocked, and as such, the social networkers were facing fines ranging from 800,000 to four million rubles ($10,360 to $51,800).




Russian speaks tough about Twitter refusing to play ball with local censorship requirements

Link Here19th March 2021
This week Russian authorities warned that if Twitter doesn't fall into line of responding to Russian censorship demands then it could find itself blocked in the country in a month's time. Anticipating the possible fallout, including Russian users attempting to bypass the ban, a government minister has warned that blocking VPNs will be the next step.

For some time, local telecoms censor Roscomnadzor has criticized Twitter for not responding to its calls for prohibited content to be taken down. Roscomnadzor says that more than 3,100 takedown demands have gone unheeded so far.

In what appeared to be a retaliatory move, last week authorities attempted to slow down Twitter access in Russia, but this seems to have caused widespread disruption to many other websites, perhaps those that hang through waiting for linked Twitter content.



A new internet space race with the west...

Putin signs a raft of internet censorship measures into law

Link Here 3rd January 2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed several internet censorship laws into force, including one that introduces crippling fines for failing to remove banned material.

Although sexually explicit content is technically legal in Russia, existing laws banning the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects and other laws claiming to protect the health of Russian children are deployed by the state at its own discretion against sites hosting adult content.

The end-of-the-year legislative package signed into law by Putin, according to Reuters , also grants the Russian government new powers to restrict U.S. social media giants, label individuals 'foreign agents,' and to crack down on the disclosure of its security officers' personal data.

One of the measures was a response complaints about supposed bias and prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against Russian media. If social media companies block Russian websites then these social media websites will be blocked in Russia.

Another of the new laws introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year's Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove content banned in Russia.



'Fake news' is in the eye of the beholder...

Russian threatens to block US social media for labelling Russian content as fake news

Link Here19th November 2020
Russian lawmakers have announced plans to block any internet services deemed to censor local media. The move seems targeted at US social media companies that have been blocking content from Russian internet sources.

The US internet internet companies have been labelling Russian content as fake news and propaganda. In particular the move came a day after state media regulator Roskomnadzor demanded YouTube remove restrictions supposedly placed on programmes produced by the prominent state TV propagandist Vladimir Solovyev.

The legislation would grant authorities conditional powers to block access to sites such as Youtube , Twitter and Facebook -- either fully or partially.

The bill seems almost certain to pass after attracting the public support of the Kremlin.



Uncensored news...

Russia fines Google for not following local censorship orders

Link Here 10th August 2020
A Russian court has fined Google 1.5 million roubles ($20,350) for not blocking content ordered to be censored by the Russian government.




Offsite Article: David's Telegram to Goliath...

Link Here 30th June 2020
How the founder of the Telegram messaging app stood up to the Kremlin -- and won

See article from



Troublesome truths...

Russia attempts to get Google to censors coronavirus news that it does not like

Link Here 20th May 2020
The Russian government has demanded that Google censor a news story that accuses the nation of artificially reducing the reported number of deaths from COVID-19. The news data, however, comes from government-run institutions and official records.

The nation's internet censor, the Roskomnadzor, is trying to remove a news item from the MBKh Media website for being considered disinformation. In fact the MBKh Media article was based on a piece published by the Financial Times, and that piece also is under scrutiny by Roskomnadzor.

The news in question states that the Russian government is trying to reduce the actual COVID-19 death toll by attributing the deaths to other diseases. According to the report, the death toll should be at least 70% higher, which means that the actual death toll would be close to 5,000. Moscow's Health Department confirmed that the reports are based on their data.

To block the news, the Roskomnadzor has turned to Google directly since MBKh Media has refused to delete the report.

Maybe the Russian censors should consider that its reputation for censoring embarrassing but true information means that the act of censorship ends up reinforcing the credibility of what's being censored. Maybe then attempts to censor say 5G theories may end up enforcing the conspiracy.

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