Russia shutting down opposition websites

Russia shutting down opposition websites

[Ed. – Doesn’t feel real. But it is.]

Russia has all but eliminated the free media as it fights an information war against the West over Ukraine, with prosecutors blocking independent websites and other publications making editorial changes under obvious Kremlin pressure.

Russia’s general prosecutor’s office announced late Thursday that it was blocking the independent news websites Kasparov.ru, run by chess champion and self-exiled opposition figure Garry Kasparov, EJ.ru, and Grani. ru for inciting “illegal activity” and participating in unsanctioned protests. Prosecutors also banned anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny’s blog, by far the country’s most popular and a flashpoint for anti-Putin sentiment, on the grounds that posting to it violated the terms of his house arrest, which bars him from using the internet.

“I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anymore,” read a post on Navalny’s blog. The post said Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption have been running the blog since Navalny’s bail was revoked Feb. 28. Numerous Twitter users reported that LiveJournal, the service hosting Navalny’s blog, and the Ekho Moskvy radio website, which reposted it, were entirely unavailable on some internet providers, though Russia’s internet registry said they had not been banned. …

The political crisis in Ukraine has seen the Kremlin escalate its efforts to assert control over the flow of information, with every major independent publication making surprise masthead changes under obvious political pressure. Thirty-nine employees of Lenta.ru, the country’s most popular independent news site, quit en masse Thursday after their owner unexpectedly fired its editor-in-chief.

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