The media is still under attack in Russia. Moscow shut down three news websites critical of the Kremlin and the blog of longtime opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The government communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru and Yezhednevny Zhurnal (Daily Journal) have carried incitements to unlawful behavior and participation in unauthorized mass gatherings. It said the ban was requested by the Prosecutor General’s Office and Internet providers are now under instructions to implement the block.
Garry Kasparov is in charge of Kasparov.ru and he is one of the most outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin. His Twitter feed is filled with criticisms of the Kremlin and pointers for the West on how to make Russia back down. He has also appeared on many American shows, including The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN and Cavuto on FOX Business.
The Prosecutor General said Navalny’s website was blocked because he violated his terms of house arrest. He is only allowed in his Moscow apartment, can only talk with lawyers and family, and internet is absolutely not allowed.
Legislation was passed on February 1 that allow prosecutors to shut down any website without a court order that incite hatred or call for mass protests without permission.
On March 12, Lenta.ru’s chief editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but employees said she was fired because she defied the Kremlin and published an interview that quoted the Right Sector Party’s leader. Moscow identifies the group as extremist and a threat to Russia. The next day many employees resigned in protest of her firing and censorship efforts from Moscow. Kommersant reporter Anastasia Karimova posted her resignation letter on Facebook and Instagram. She left because of censorship and said there is no acceptable work in Moscow for journalists. Despite Moscow’s explanations, many know it is because of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
“There is an absolutely direct link with the events in Ukraine,” said Alexander Podrabinek, a former dissident and a columnist for two of the newly banned websites, EJ.ru and Grani.ru.
“The authorities realised long ago these resources destroy their sunny picture of the world. Now is a good moment to swat them,” Podrabinek told AFP.
Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air over censorship and the network’s backing of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Three Norwegian journalists were detained at a Crimea checkpoint and gunmen confiscated their equipment and protective gear. Interfax-Ukraine reported Ukrainian television stations were not working in Crimea, but Russian stations worked perfectly fine.