After the facebook blockingthe Russia just announced new measures applicable in the country from Monday, including the blocking of certain foreign sites on Russian territorymaking it increasingly difficult to access information in the country.
War in Ukraine: Russia hits the internet
The war in Ukraine is not only fought on the front lines, with soldiers and tanks. It also requires massive control of information and the media. It has already been 16 days since the conflict started, and the damage is already very significant. The media Reuters already account 13,000 dead, at least 2.5 million Ukrainian civilians deported and approximately $119 billion in property damage, as the conflict bogs down with Russian troops at the gates of the country’s captain, Kiev as well as the bombardment of various cities including Mariupol and Odessa. A conflict on an unprecedented scale in Europe which sees the return of two factions, with pro and anti Russians. The sanctions against the country led by Vladimir Putin follow one another, and the belligerent country responds to them. Among them are numerous economic sanctions with the withdrawal of large Western companies from Russian territory.
Information is an important point of war, and controlling it is even more so. In Russia, anti-war demonstrations follow one another throughout the country, repressed by the power in place. The media OVD-Info reported that on the single day of March 6, more than 5,000 arrests and 3,500 detentions had taken place, for an estimated total of 10,000 arrests since the beginning of the conflict, on February 24. To prevent people from learning about the conflict, Vladimir Putin has decided to restrict access to the Internet and the largest social networks on its territory, blocking Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and forcing Google on access to VPNs and forcing them to remove and block any content dealing with the war. TikTok, for its part, took the lead in deciding to stop its services on Russian soil. Friday evening, we also learn that the social network Instagram will also be blocked in the country from Monday March 14, enough to put in even more in the blur more than 80 million Russians. The move comes after Meta Group, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it was relaxing its policy of restricting political and violent messages against Russian soldiersauthorizing the publication of messages such as, for example, according to Andy Stone, spokesperson for Meta: “Death to the Russian invaders”.
Russia: all means are good for information
After the Russian invasion, VPN mobile app downloads exploded nationwide, reaching almost 500,000 downloads in 4 days. Since 2012, there has been a law in Russia that strengthens state control of information, allowing to blacklist and block any website, publication and press organ challenging the current power. In 2019, the law was reinforced by blocking all tools to hide your IP address, in order to always be identifiable. The database Lumenwhich lists all requests to remove links, notes that since February 22, Google is being forced by Russia to remove hundreds, if not thousands, of links a day, especially since March 5, 2022. Currently, the latest information tends to suggest that Roskomnadzor, the Russian Federal Communications and Media Supervision Service, plans to cut Russia off from the global internetto exist only in a closed network throughout its territory.
Since the beginning of the conflict, many companies have taken a stand by withdrawing their activities from the territory, like McDonalds, whose presence in Russia was a symbolic and historical gesture of the fall of the USSR. This, by the way, had a strange effect, where hundreds of Russians were rushing to stock up on the American fast food chain. Other companies have raised funds for civil aid associations, such as The Pokémon Company, Riot Games, EA Sports or even the Polish studio CD Projekt Red, directly impacted by the conflict with its direct Ukrainian neighbor.