The Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has decided this Friday block access in Russia to the social network Facebook in response to the “censorship” of Russian media accounts in the wake of the Kremlin’s military offensive in Ukraine.
“On March 4 it was decided to block access to Facebook, controlled by Meta, on the territory of the Russian Federation,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement, accusing the social network of “discriminate” against the Russian media.
“Since October 2020, 26 cases of discrimination have been recorded against Russian media and information resources by Facebook,” the regulatory agency said.
The Russian regulator already partially restricted access to Facebook at the end of February, a day after Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine. He then explained that he was taking this measure after the American technology company restrict the official accounts of four Russian media: the TV channel of the Ministry of Defense Zvezda, the official agency RIA Nóvosti, the portal Lenta and the newspaper Gazeta.ru.
Accuses Meta of violating the right to information
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that Facebook “illegally restricted the dissemination through internet users of information socially important on the territory of the Russian Federation, including recorded media messages and materials, in connection with the imposition of political and economic sanctions by foreign countries with respect to Russia”.
The Russian authorities consider that This violates the right of citizens contained in article 29 of the Russian Constitution to freely access, receive, transmit, produce and disseminate information in a legal manner,” the Prosecutor’s Office stated.
Roskomnadzor has indicated that it has asked Meta, Facebook’s parent company, to lift the restrictions and explain the reasons for their introduction, but the social network has ignored the Russian request.
Social networks restrict users and media controlled by Russia
“Millions of Russians will soon see deprived of reliable information“, has declared the Meta company. The main technology and social media companies have come under pressure to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meta announced this week that it had restricted access to RT and Sputnik throughout the European Union, and that it was globally curtailing content on the Facebook pages and Instagram accounts of Russian state-controlled media, as well as posts containing links to those media. On Saturday, Twitter jumped in and did the same for some Russian users.
For its part, the Russian government said last week that it was partially limiting access to Facebook, a move that Meta said came after rejecting a government request to stop independent check of the events of various Russian state media.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow on February 24, the Russian authorities have intensified their pressure on the independent media that remain and on the main social networks. Russian lawmakers on Friday introduced a law that will impose heavy penalties on those who spread “false information about the military.”
Roskomnadzor too has restricted access to the BBC, the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the independent Russian website Meduza (based in Riga), Radio Svoboda, the Russian branch of RFE/RL, Voice of America, and other unnamed news websites. All this in the middle of the information and propaganda warfare about military intervention.