The Russian government has blocked dozens of websites criticizing the Kremlin. Particularly affected are apparently sides around the imprisoned oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
The Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has blocked 49 websites linked to the imprisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny. “As a result of a decision by the Attorney General’s Office, 49 websites were blocked at once,” wrote Navalny’s confidante Leonid Volkov on Monday in the short message service Twitter. Among them are Nawalny’s website and that of his main organizations, which were classified as “extremist” by the Russian judiciary in June.
The portals of the opposition party Lyubov Sobol and the independent alliance of doctors, which, for example, had uncovered grievances in the corona pandemic in Russia, were no longer readily accessible. The blocking can be bypassed, for example, via a protected network connection (VPN).
“The Night of the Long Knives”
The measures were aimed at further hampering the activities of Navalny’s supporters ahead of the parliamentary elections in September, said Volkov, who himself lives in exile in Lithuania. He indicated that the opposition would try to circumvent the lockdowns. “The night of the long knives,” wrote Volkov under his post – alluding to the series of murders of political and military rivals commissioned by Adolf Hitler in 1934.
The activist expected, as he said, that the page for the so-called smart voting would soon be blocked before the elections. There the opposition wants to give voters recommendations as to which candidate they should cast their vote for in order to prevent the candidate from the Kremlin party United Russia from entering the new State Duma.
Nawalny’s support network classified as extremist
Before the parliamentary elections in September, the Russian government appears to be increasing the pressure on the opposition. A Moscow court had classified Nawalny’s regional support network and his anti-corruption foundation as “extremist” in June and banned them with immediate effect. Shortly before, a law had come into force in Russia banning members of organizations classified as “extremist” from voting.
In addition, thousands of websites were blocked, including many by opposition members, but also by independent and critical media. The authorities justify the bans with violations of Russian laws, according to which, for example, pages with extremist content may not be accessible. Those who think differently complain that criticism of the Russian power apparatus is increasingly criminalized and that freedom of expression is threatened more and more.
Numerous revelations about corrupt governance
Navalny survived a neurotoxin attack in Russia last August, for which he blames the Kremlin. After his treatment in Germany, he was arrested in Russia on his return in January and later sentenced to more than two years in a camp for alleged violations of probation conditions. The judgment met with sharp criticism internationally.
Navalny is considered to be the most important adversary of President Vladimir Putin. On the website of his organization, revelations that attracted millions of people had been published, including serious allegations of corruption against members of the government, Kremlin officials and other state officials. Most recently there was the film “Volodin. The Billionaire In Love With Putin” about the President of Parliament Vyacheslav Volodin. On YouTube, the strip had more than three million views on Monday.