Kremlin Tightens Censorship as Tensions over Ukraine Increase | Freedom House

Kremlin Tightens Censorship as Tensions over Ukraine Increase

Washington

Russia’s flagrant censorship in blocking access to several independent online news and social media outlets is both unprecedented in post-Soviet Russia and a clear violation of free speech and freedom of the press, Freedom House said today.

On March 13, the Russian federal media regulator Roskomnadzor announced that it was blocking online access to Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru, and Ej.ru, outlets that have long provided the public with alternative news sources to Kremlin-controlled media. Roskomnadzor accuses all three of violating a new law prohibiting calls to participate in mass unsanctioned events. It has also blocked access to the LiveJournal blog of the Russian government’s most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, for allegedly violating the terms of his house arrest.

“By censoring independent news sites, the government of Vladimir Putin makes clear it has no respect for free speech, no respect for freedom of the press, and no respect for Russia’s citizens,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “The Kremlin is stifling information to try to stifle citizens’ voices.  It’s no coincidence that these actions are occurring after popular protests demanding dignity and respect for human rights produced a change in leadership in neighboring Ukraine.”

Roskomnadzor’s latest actions came a day after it issued a warning to Lenta.ru for publishing an interview with a leader of a far-right Ukrainian movement. The news site’s editor-in-chief, Galina Timchenko, was forced to resign immediately and replaced with a pro-government media manager, Aleksey Goreslavsky. Last week, the agency blocked access to 13 pages on the social networking site Vkontakte that discussed protesters in Ukraine, which followed an undisguised campaign to ban the independent TV channel Dozhd from cable networks and replace the leadership of radio and online outlet Ekho Moskvy this winter.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014 and Freedom of the Press 2013, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more about Russia, please visit:
Freedom Alert: Russia Targets Key Media and Journalists in Crimea
Op-Ed: U.S. Foreign Policy Comes Home to Roost with Russia’s Action in Ukraine
Freedom in the World 2014: Russia
Nations in Transit 2013: Russia
Freedom of the Press 2013: Russia
Freedom on the Net 2013: Russia
Blog: Russian Energy Weapon in Europe

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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