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29.04.2014

Russian authorities block Ukrainian “nationalist” sites

   

Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal committee supervising the media and IT, has blocked access to a number of websites on which, it claims, “Ukrainian nationalists have called for mass protest actions in Russia”.  RIA Novosti reports that the move has been initiated by the prosecutor for the Siberian District Region, and involves more than 10 websites.

It is regrettable that no further details are provided since the Siberian websites are “accused” of something which in a democratic country is not illegal.

Typically, after saying that there are no specific details, the Kremlin-loyal RIA Novosti adds “but for example, the radical organization Right Sector previously called on Ukrainians to prepare for armed resistance to Russian interventionists.” The hyperlink given contains no call to armed resistance, just to “decisive measures” and the claim that Yarosh fought against Russian military in Chechnya is false.  The report then mentions and gives a link to information about the criminal charges brought against Yarosh in absentia.  The Russian authorities are accusing him of terrorism over an alleged appeal to the Chechen militant Doku Umarov.  The charges would be dubious even were they true.  The purported letter was produced at a time when a Right Sector’s computer had been hacked.  While this may be difficult to prove, understanding why Yarosh should issue an appeal to the Chechen militant only to deny any involvement just hours later.

In short, anything could have been presented as grounds for a ban, and already has in the case of prominent independent websites (see Information Channels at War)

In Russia and, following the annexation, in the Crimea from May 9 calls to action in support of the Crimea being part of Ukraine will result in major fines or even imprisonment.  This is in accordance with a Russian Federation law signed by Putin on Dec 20 2013.  This adds Article 280.1 "Public calls to carry out actions aimed at violating the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity" to Russia’s Criminal Code.  From May 9 onwards calls for Russia to stop violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and for action against the Russian annexation will face penalties ranging from a fine of up to 300 thousand roubles to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years if such calls were published in the media or Internet.

Halya Coynash   

Image from the Internet Association of Ukraine

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