Russian Censorship and Blockage From the Global Internet

by Neena Kumar ’25

Source: Adweek

Published Apr. 8th, 2022

Russia has grown closer to digital isolation ever since the invasion of Ukraine. In support of Ukraine, multinational internet companies, like Tiktok and Netflix, have pulled their services out of Russia to comply with sanctions imposed by the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union. Russian people have been left with few options to seek independent information outside state-controlled media. 

The Russian government also blocked applications like Twitter and Facebook while establishing a new censorship law that forced many news outlets, such as the BBC, CNN, and Bloomberg, to cut off their services in Russia.

According to The New York Times, “journalists, website operators and others risk 15 years in prison for publishing ‘misinformation’ about the war on Ukraine” due to the new law. The government decides what constitutes “misinformation,” thereby controlling what the citizens of their country view. 

“As long as the Internet exists, people can find out the truth. There will be no Internet– all people in Russia will only listen to propaganda,” states Mikhail Kilmarev, the Internet Protection Society executive director. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government are putting out propaganda that hides the truth about the invasion of Ukraine through the censorship law and bans on the internet, with the intent of influencing the Russian public perception of what is going on in Ukraine. 

Because of this limitation to the internet, many Russian citizens turned to Virtual Private Networks or VPNs to access information, including government censored news. As a result, Surfshark, a VPN company, reported a 3500% increase in average weekly sales in Russia. 

Overall, Russian blockage from the internet hurts Russian citizens because it deprives Russians of the benefits of accessing free speech on the internet and seeing different points of view, especially dissenting points of view from their government. 

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