Russia’s media regulator has blocked two online news outlets critical of the Kremlin in the latest ruling against independent media ahead of the September parliamentary elections.
Open Media and MBKh Media are not available for users of most Russian ISPs, the websites reported at the end of August 4.
Outlets said they had not received any notification from authorities explaining why they were blocked.
Both news outlets are backed by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for politically challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin.
MBKh said his site was blocked by media regulator Roskomnadzor. Open Media also quoted Roskomnadzor as saying on Telegram that its website was on a list compiled by the regulator as a resource that included calls for riots and extremist activity.
Open Media said it received several letters on August 4 asking it to remove content from its website that was against the law. The letters, however, did not indicate the content in question.
According to the Russian State Register of Blocked Websites, media access was restricted by order of the Attorney General’s office on August 3.
The register referred to a law allowing the blocking of websites that incite mass unrest, extremist activity or participation in unauthorized gatherings.
In recent weeks, Russia has designated a number of independent media outlets and journalists as “foreign agents” or “unwanted” – labels that involve an attempt to discredit journalists or apply additional government scrutiny.
The intensification of the repression before the legislative elections of September 19 targeted media considered by the authorities to be hostile and supported from abroad.
Russian authorities last month branded some Open Media journalists as “foreign agents”.
The Foreign Agents Act requires that non-governmental organizations that receive foreign aid and that the government considers engaged in political activity to be registered, identify themselves as âforeign agentsâ and submit to audits.
Many investigative media organizations, including the Russian service of RFE / RL, six other Russian-language news services of RFE / RL and Current Time, are among the news organizations that have been labeled “foreign agents.” “.