Since the beginning of Russia’s engagement in Ukraine on February 24, the Russian government has strengthened its grip over information on the internet, one of the country’s last bastions of free speech.

According to AFP, quoting Russian news agencies, Russia’s media watchdog has banned access to the Google News service, accusing it of disseminating ‘false news’ regarding Russia’s incursion in Ukraine.

According to a statement from Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor reported by the agencies, the decision was made at the request of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office.

“Access to various publications and documents that include incorrect information… concerning the conduct of the special military operation on Ukrainian territory” was supplied by the online news service, according to the statement.

According to AFP, a Google spokeswoman stated that “some individuals in Russia are having problems accessing the Google News app and website,” and that this is “not due to any technical issues” on the company’s end. “We’ve worked hard to ensure that information services like News are available to Russians for as long as possible,” a Google spokeswoman stated.

Since the beginning of Russia’s engagement in Ukraine on February 24, the Russian government has strengthened its grip over information on the internet, one of the country’s last bastions of free speech.

Many Russian and international media outlets, including the BBC, have had their internet services banned, and a Moscow court has labeled the American social media platforms Facebook and Instagram as “extremist.”

Alphabet-owned Google said on Wednesday that it will not assist websites, apps, or YouTube channels in selling advertisements alongside content that exploits, rejects, or condones the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor also accused Google and its video provider YouTube of “terrorist” acts last week, paving the way for a future shutdown.

At the same time, in early March, the authorities announced two new criminal offenses: one for broadcasting “discrediting” material about the Russian army, and another for disseminating “false” information about Russian troops.

The latter offense, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail, is of particular worry to the political opposition and independent media, which fear being prosecuted if they report on the Ukraine offensive.

Information Credit: HINDUSTAN TIMES

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