Russia to block Glavkom over Siberian federalism coverage
07.08.14 | Halya Coynash
The Ukrainian information agency Glavkom is likely to be blocked within the next 24 hours over information posted on its site about the march for Siberian federalization. Hetzner Online AG, the German web hosting provider has been asked by Roskomnadzor, the Russian media and Internet supervisory board to block Glavkom and, bafflingly, has agreed to the Russian censor’s demand.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and Human Rights Ombudsperson have both called for urgent measures to stop pressure from Russian on Glavkom. In the meantime the information agency’s IT people are trying desperately to get the site moved to a Ukrainian provider.
The head of Glavkom, Viktor Shlinchak apologises for likely inconvenience to readers. He stresses that they fully support the position taken by the BBC Russian Service and also insist that the information on their site about the planned (and now banned) March for Siberian Federalization does not violate anybody’s rights and is not a call to extremism. The pressure on themselves and on the BBC “is pressure on free journalism and the wish to have total control over the information realm”.
Shlinchak is also indignant over the behaviour of the German company Hetzner Online AG which, without investigating the situation, is playing up to those who will not tolerate any dissident thinking, but use others to avenge themselves on publications which Russia can’t control.
“I consider such an approach an international precedent. We will use all available mechanisms to defend our rights, but in the public and legal fields”.
Glavkom received a letter at the end of last week from the Russian authorities. This asserts that the text here (and at the screenshots below) contains material with calls to mass disturbances, to engage in extremist activity or take part in mass (public) events carried out in violation of established procedure”.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry has called on Berlin to give its assessment of the behaviour of Hetzner Online AG which is prepared to block Glavkom at Russia’s request.
This comes a day after the BBC Russian Service stated clearly that it would not succumb to pressure and remove inoffensive material.
There have been at very least 17 other demands on Russian and Ukrainian media sites to remove innocuous material about a planned peaceful march. The latter, organized by Siberian artist Artem Loskutov and some others was under the slogan “We’ve had enough of feeding Moscow!”, was only to call for greater autonomy by creating a Siberian republic within the Russian Federation. This would enable the people of Siberia to: introduce benefits and wage supplements for people living in harsh climactic conditions; introduce a regional component to the tax on extracting precious metals, resulting in a fairer divide between local and federal budgets; exercise their constitutional right to their own authorities who are more independent of the centre and to remove the idiotic situation whereby all decisions are taken by the government in Moscow.
By now, the Russian authorities have banned that march, and are taking increasingly aggressive measures to restrict freedom of information within Russia and beyond.
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