In October a wave of censorship swept the Russian internet prior to the official introduction of a new federal internet blacklist law on 1 November.
Regional authorities targeted internet service providers to block access to websites featuring anti-Islamic, Islamist and Nazi material on the grounds that they were “extremist”. Regional prosecutors targeted websites that allowed access to the video The Innocence of Muslims, an amateur film that attracted Islamist protests worldwide. Regional prosecutors throughout Russia demanded that internet service providers block access to the film in early October. The video was subsequently declared extremist by a Moscow court in the middle of the month.
But prosecutors also targeted websites publishing texts as disparate as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and a treatise by the medieval Islamic scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, as well as right-wing Russian nationalist material. Among the victims of the trawl are websites run by Jehovah’s Witnesses and conspiracy theorists. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have also been told to block access to websites giving advice on how to commit suicide and promoting pyramid schemes.
The new national register of banned websites set up by the Federal Service for Supervision of Telecoms, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) has the power to make ISPs block access to websites within three days.
Check back in December for the full list of what was censored in November.
16 October Stavropol court restricts access to electronic version of late Russian nationalist historian Yuri Petukhov’s The Russian World Order.
17 October Tver prosecutor announces that website is making available Hitler’s Black Guard, which is on a federal extremist list, and tries (unsuccessfully) to block the website.
18 October Perm prosecutor successfully demands the blocking of websites publishing Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
24 October Liven prosecutor demands block on ISPs hosting of work of nationalist writer Oray Volot.
10 October Stavropol prosecutor demands that ISPs stop access to websites giving advice on how to commit suicide.
20 October Russian supreme court upholds Rostov prosecutor’s 2011 demand that an ISP stops access to websites giving advice on how to commit suicide.
18 October Samara court moves against “legal highs” websites.
15 October Surgat court starts action to prevent the sale of “legal high” drugs online.
22 October Orel prosecutor tries to make an ISP block access to the Wikipedia page on “Russian obscenities” and website advocating use of laughing gas.
1 October-17 October Warnings issued by prosecutors in Astrakhan, Kaluga, Kostroma, Tomsk, Krasnodar, Mordovia, the Jewish Autonomous Region, Samara, Bashkiria, Bashkortostan, Tula, Ivanovo to ISPs providing access to The Innocence of Muslims.
1 October Ipatovsk prosecutor blocks the website publishing text of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Council for Kings, a medieval theological treatise included on the federal list of extremist materials.
1 October Ivanovo prosecutor identifies two Jehovah’s Witnesses’ websites as extremist and issues a warning to an ISP.
3 October Altai prosecutor blocks access to lib.rus.ec internet library on grounds of extremist content.
11 October Vladivostok prosecutor orders ISPs to block access to an allegedly anti-Semitic leaflet.
11 October Irkutsk prosecutor blocks access to an “extremist” website.
15 October Ufa prosecutor starts cases against educational institutions supposedly allowing access to “extremist” materials.
17 October Moscow court declares The Innocence of Muslims to be extremist.
17 October Belgorod prosecutor demands that an ISP restricts access to 14 sites carrying extremist materials.
22 October North Ossetia prosecutor demands ISPs restrict access to 33 sites containing “extremist” texts.
22 October Saratov prosecutor demands 20 ISPs restrict access to “extremist” material.
23 October Nenets prosecutor demands ISPs block access to nationalist websites.
25 October St Petersburg prosecutors demand ISPs restrict access to extremist websites.
10 October Nefteyugansk prosecutor demands an ISP stops access to financial services websites it alleges are pyramid schemes.
12 October Tomsk prosecutor demands an ISP stops access to a pyramid scheme website.
Andrei Soldatov is a Russian journalist, and together with Irina Borogan, co-founder of the Agentura.Ru website. Last year, Soldatov and Borogan co-authored The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB (PublicAffairs)