Russian Parliament Acts to Block Open Russia Website

October 26, 2017

The Russian State Duma has preliminarily approved a bill which is due to allow the authorities to block the websites of 11 ‘undesirable’ organisations in the Russian Federation.

327 Duma deputies voted to pass the bill with no objections and only 3 abstentions.  Once the bill is passed into law it will allow the authorities to block the websites of 11 ‘undesirable’ organisations, among which are Open Russia and the Institute of Modern Russia.

Open Russia was officially recognised as ‘undesirable’ back in April by the Russian Attorney General Yury Chaika.  The ruling officially made Open Russia (Otkrytaya Rossiya – an organisation registered in Britain) and its activity illegal in the Russian Federation in an attempt to hinder its influence on the opposition movement and its civil society engagement.

The act to ban the websites of ‘undesirable’ organisations was first introduced to the State Duma on September 29 2017.  From 2015 the Russian Ministry of Justice has added 11 organisations to its list of undesirables.  Those found to be cooperating or working for these organisations can now face criminal charges for doing so.

The Ministry of Justice’s list includes many organisations that receive foreign funding and promote ideas critical of the current ruling elite.  The decision to block ‘undesirable’ websites in the Russian Federation is yet another example of the attempt to shut down freedom of expression ahead of the 2018 presidential elections.

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