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Russia blocks Facebook, Twitter in latest effort to control invasion narrative

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Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor announced it has cut access to Facebook and Twitter. Roskomnadzor has previously accused Twitter of failing to delete content banned by Russian authorities. Friday’s move, executed in line with a decision by the Russian Prosecutor General’s office, is one of several moves made by Russia to limit the information Russians see about the invasion of Ukraine. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Russia has also blocked the following news agencies:

  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
  • German broadcaster Deutsche Welle
  • The Latvia-based website Meduza

“We remain committed to making accurate, independent information available to audiences around the world, including the millions of Russians who use our news services,” the BBC said in a statement. “Our journalists in Ukraine and around the world will continue to report on the invasion of Ukraine.”

The Russian media crackdown didn’t stop there. President Vladimir Putin signed a law that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be “fake” reports. Those found in violation of the law could face 15 years in prison.

“Huge propagandist-technological forces are against us. Therefore, we need laws,” Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko said. “They are severe, but the time requires it. Security of our country, lives of our people… are at stake.”

In response, the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) both announced they were temporarily suspending the work of all its journalists in Russia.

“CBC/Radio-Canada is very concerned about new legislation passed in Russia, which appears to criminalize independent reporting on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia,” the CBC wrote in a statement. “We join other media in standing up for a free press and unimpeded access to accurate, independent journalism in Ukraine and Russia.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on moves like these while in Brussels Friday, saying “Russia has never been so isolated.” The video above includes clips from his briefing.

“We regret that tens of millions of Russians will suffer because of the dangerous decisions made by a tiny circle of corrupt leaders and their cronies who’ve consistently put their interests above those of the Russian people, who are doing everything they can to hide their war of choice from the Russian public,” Blinken said.

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: “Of all the consequences of Moscow’s unprovoked attack, one of the most unexpected is the spark it has lit in people around the world who’ve come out to demonstrate for freedom, for the rights of Ukrainians. That includes valiant individuals in places where protesting the Kremlin’s war means risking arrest, beatings or worse, as thousands of Russians and Belarusians have done.”

“Russia has never been so isolated. We have never been more united. But let me reiterate one thing, because it’s very important, we take these actions not because we oppose the Russian people. We do not. We regret that tens of millions of Russians will suffer because of the dangerous decisions made by a tiny circle of corrupt leaders and their cronies who’ve consistently put their interests above those of the Russian people, who are doing everything they can to hide their war of choice from the Russian public.”

Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor announced it has cut access to Facebook and Twitter. Roskomnadzor has previously accused Twitter of failing to delete content banned by Russian authorities. Friday’s move, executed in line with a decision by the Russian Prosecutor General’s office, is one of several moves made by Russia to limit the information Russians see about the invasion of Ukraine. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Russia has also blocked the following news agencies:

  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
  • German broadcaster Deutsche Welle
  • The Latvia-based website Meduza

“We remain committed to making accurate, independent information available to audiences around the world, including the millions of Russians who use our news services,” the BBC said in a statement. “Our journalists in Ukraine and around the world will continue to report on the invasion of Ukraine.”

The Russian media crackdown didn’t stop there. President Vladimir Putin signed a law that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be “fake” reports. Those found in violation of the law could face 15 years in prison.

“Huge propagandist-technological forces are against us. Therefore, we need laws,” Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko said. “They are severe, but the time requires it. Security of our country, lives of our people… are at stake.”

In response, the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) both announced they were temporarily suspending the work of all its journalists in Russia.

“CBC/Radio-Canada is very concerned about new legislation passed in Russia, which appears to criminalize independent reporting on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia,” the CBC wrote in a statement. “We join other media in standing up for a free press and unimpeded access to accurate, independent journalism in Ukraine and Russia.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on moves like these while in Brussels Friday, saying “Russia has never been so isolated.” The video above includes clips from his briefing.

“We regret that tens of millions of Russians will suffer because of the dangerous decisions made by a tiny circle of corrupt leaders and their cronies who’ve consistently put their interests above those of the Russian people, who are doing everything they can to hide their war of choice from the Russian public,” Blinken said.

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