The brand of Russia’s point out communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, is reflected in a laptop display screen in this photo illustration taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

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LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) – On the working day Russian troops poured into Ukraine, Russia’s point out communications regulator Roskomnadzor set out a statement, demanding that media stores only use official Russian resources to cover the “special procedure” in Ukraine. Normally they could be blocked and facial area a good of up to 5 million roubles.

Russian authorities, which did not remark for this write-up, have because doubled down on censorship in Russia. On March 4, lawmakers passed amendments that criminalised “discrediting” Russian armed forces or calling for sanctions in opposition to Russia.

Lawmakers made the distribute of “pretend” information an offence punishable with fines or a jail time period of up to 15 many years, a shift that led some international information retailers to halt reporting in Russia.

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Authorities also limited access to Fb and Twitter and blocked several impartial media and Ukrainian websites.

In reaction, Twitter said men and women must have free and open obtain to the world-wide-web, especially all through occasions of crisis. Nick Clegg, president of global affairs for Facebook’s dad or mum organization Meta, reported millions of regular Russians would be minimize off from responsible information.

A number of Russian media stores suspended their do the job. Ekho Moskvy, a liberal radio station, was dissolved by its board soon after the prosecutor general’s office environment blocked its website about its protection of the war. Tv channel Rain suspended its function following its web-site was blocked. The Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of final year’s Nobel Peace Prize, reported it would pause its do the job until finally the conclude of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine.

Online censorship was now growing in advance of the invasion. Ahead of the September elections past calendar year, important net outages ended up caused by a crackdown on sites connected to jailed opposition chief Alexei Navalny and on technological know-how used to circumvent on the net bans.

All around 200,000 internet websites were blocked in 2021, in accordance to data from Roskomsvoboda, a group that screens net independence in Russia. They involved the site of OVD-Facts, which has documented anti-Kremlin protests for a long time. This calendar year, as of March 10, far more than 46,000 websites have been blocked, according to Roskomsvoboda.

(reporting by Lena Masri modifying by Janet McBride)

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