Russia: communications regulator demands censorship on information about Moscow demonstrations

On 11th August, the Russian national communications regulator Roskomnadzor published a statement demanding Google to prevent its video-sharing service Youtube from distributing information on the recent protests in Moscow.

The agency said, it wants to prevent “advertising for unauthorized demonstrations”. Otherwise, counter measures could be taken. IFJ and EFJ condemn this act of censorship and demand Russian authorities to respect the citizen’s right to information.

According to available information, several entities possessing YouTube channels have bought advertising instruments [such as push notifications] with the aim of distributing information about unsanctioned [illegal] mass events, including those aimed at disrupting regional and federal elections,” writes the agency on its website.

If Google fails to respond, the Russian Federation would consider it as “interference in its sovereign affairs” and “hostile influence and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”. Roskomnadzor didn’t name specific measures it will take against Google, but said Russia would have the right to retaliate if the company did not stop the push notifications and other advertising.

Russian authorities have also accused the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), as well as the US government of encouraging protests. Three Saturday-demonstration took place since the end of July, The first two were not authorized by the Russian government. A number of YouTube channels have broadcasted the protests live, reaching out to thousands of users.

The demonstrations were triggered after Moscow’s electoral authorities rejected several opposition candidates from running in the elections to the city council which will take place on September.

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