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Russian censor will not be allowed to block Glavkom

Halya Coynash

The German company Hetzner Online AG has apologized for planning to block the Ukrainian information agency Glavkom.  The latter had rejected the demand from Roskomnadzor, the Russian media and Internet supervisory board to remove information about a planned march for Siberian federalization. 

The Russian authorities have banned the event, and had also threatened at least 17 websites that they would be blocked if they did not remove the information, so Roskomnadzor’s behaviour was no surprise.

There was bemusement and anger that a German web hosting provider should seriously be willing to comply with such overt censorship. 

The letter from the company states that after a legal assessment, they wish to apologize and deny that any censorship was planned.  They then assert that since they had not received any statement from Glavkom after being given a deadline, their technical support team took a wrong decision which they regret.

The letter does not explain why the original deadline was given.  The fact that the Russian authorities are not prepared to hear of peaceful protests in support of greater autonomy within the Russian Federalization does not make the Glavkom report illegal.  It’s information was entirely neutral.  Nor were the organizers of the then planned action in any way suggesting something violent or against the law. 

The head of Glavkom Viktor Shlinchak writes that Hetzner Online AG has clearly understood that it got itself into a political mess and is trying to salvage its reputation.

Shlinchak expresses gratitude to Ukrainian diplomats from the Ukrainian embassy in Germany; Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and the Ombudsperson; Reporters without Borders; journalist unions and colleagues who supported them in upholding their right to their profession.

The event that caused Roskomnadzor to try to spread its censorship practices beyond Russia’s borders was a planned march in support of Siberia’s federalization, scheduled for Aug 17 in Novosibirsk.  Their action, under the slogan “We’ve had enough of feeding Moscow!” was aimed at achieving greater autonomy by creating a Siberian republic within the Russian Federation. Autonomy from Russia will 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.

No more than that, yet the march was banned.

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