Russia Blocks Influential NGO Site For Promoting « Terrorism »


Russia has blocked the site of renowned NGO OVD-Info, which helps arrested protesters, arguing that it was promoting « extremism and terrorism», In the midst of a wave of repression against the critical voices of the Kremlin.

This measure comes as Moscow increases its pressure on the internet, one of the last spaces for free expression in the country, with blockades of opposition sites, threats and fines targeting digital giants.

Russian telecoms gendarme Roskomnadzor said on Saturday (December 25th) that he had blocked OVD-Info after a court ruling on December 20, saying that the NGO was publishing information promoting “terrorism and extremism”, Without giving more details on these accusations.

Roskomnadzor also asked social media platforms that the NGO’s accounts be deleted. Earlier today, the NGO announced that it had discovered the blocking of its site in Russia. « So far we have not been notified« Of this decision »and we don’t know the reason for our blockage« OVD-Info posted on Twitter.

This organization was created ten years ago during the first massive demonstrations against the power of President Vladimir Putin. It provides reliable figures for the number of arrests during opposition protests across Russia, but also provides legal support to victims of persecution.

In September, it had been entered in the register of « foreign agents», A label reserved for organizations considered to be working against Russian interests and used crescendo against independent media and NGOs.

Internet pressures

The year 2021 was marked by a growing crackdown on opponents of the regime, which began with the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, considered the main opponent of President Putin.

Returned to Russia in January after convalescing in Germany, Alexeï Navalny was immediately arrested and then sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a fraud case that he denounces as a politician. The Memorial NGO, pillar of civil society and guardian of the memory of the Stalinist repression, fears for its part to be closed before the New Year.

She is threatened with dissolution for having violated the law on « foreign agents« . Like OVD-Info, the Memorial Center for the Defense of Human Rights is also accused of apologizing for « terrorism and extremism« . This repression is also illustrated on the internet. Russia regularly sanctions large digital companies, especially foreign ones, accused of not erasing content deemed dangerous for minors or linked to the opposition.

On Friday, a Russian court sentenced Google and Meta (Facebook’s parent company) to record fines of 87 million and 23 million euros for not having removed content « forbidden”, Sanctions calculated for the first on the basis of the income of these companies in Russia. Observers fear that these pressures will push Meta and Google to remove opposition content, including the anti-Kremlin investigations led by Alexeï Navalny, which is highly regarded on Youtube (owned by Google).

Asked Thursday, December 23 about the repression of the Russian opposition, Vladimir Poutin judged that it was not a question of muzzling detractors but of curbing operations of foreign influence. « I remind you of what our adversaries have been saying for centuries: Russia cannot be defeated, it can only be destroyed from withinHe said at a press conference. According to him, this is what brought about the fall of the USSR 30 years ago.

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