Russia blocks news sites over Ukraine war coverage: Rights group

Russian authorities block independent media outlets including Mediazona, says digital rights group.

A screenshot of the homepage of the Mediazona website
Russian authorities blocked several independent media outlets including news site Mediazona, according to a digital rights group [Screengrab/Mediazona]

Russian authorities have blocked several independent media outlets including news site Mediazona as the Kremlin seeks to control coverage of its war in Ukraine, a rights group has said.

Authorities have blocked a number of digital media outlets, including Mediazona, Republic, and Agentstvo, said the digital rights group Roskomsvoboda on Sunday.

The group said the independent media had been targeted following a request from the general prosecutor’s Office dated February 24, the day President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade Ukraine.

Mediazona said it had been blocked “because we cover honestly what is happening in Ukraine and call the invasion an invasion, and the war a war“.

The media outlet added that Russia has in recent days introduced “military censorship and there is almost no independent media left in the country”.

Republic said the state communications watchdog had not informed it of the reason for the blockage but said readers would still be able to access it via a VPN.

“Thank you for staying with us. The night will pass,” Republic said in a statement.

Roskomsvoboda said that sites of several regional newspapers and online media had also been blocked.

Since Putin ordered troops into Ukraine, authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown on Russia’s already embattled media.

Earlier this week, Ekho Moskvy radio station and the Dozhd TV channel – two of Russia’s landmark liberal media outlets – both stopped operating.

Dozens of journalists and independent outlets – including Dozhd – have already been designated “foreign agents” by authorities, and many reporters and editors have been forced to leave the country.

Russia’s top independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, said after the attack began on Ukraine it would not cover the conflict, citing new legislation on reporting on the military.

Mediazona is an independent online publication which writes about court cases and abuses of prisoners’ rights, among other subjects.

The outlet was founded in 2014 by Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina after they served prison time for protesting against Putin’s rule in a church. and Republic are dedicated to publishing breaking news and analysis.

Agentstvo (formerly Proekt) is an independent Russian-language media specialising in investigative journalism. The outlet said it would keep working.

Source: AFP