Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor Saturday blocked the website of prominent rights and protest monitoring group OVD-Info after a court decision, the group said in a statement. OVD-Info is an independent Russian human rights group that has documented anti-Kremlin protests for several years and allegedly is fighting political persecution in Russia.
The Russian government adopted the Federal Law of December 30, 2020, No. 530-FZ on Amendments to the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection, under which the Roskomnadzor maintains registers of blocked websites. This register includes websites restricted on the grounds of containing riotous statements, appeals to extremism, and calls for participating in public events in violation of the law. The register states that the Lukhovitsky District Court in the Moscow region issued orders for limiting access to OVD-Info’s website on December 20, 2021. OVD-Info has said that it did not receive any notice to take down illegal content, any information about the court proceedings, or the blocking of its website.
Russia has also adopted the Federal Law of July 20, 2012, No. 121-FZ on Amendments to Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation regarding the Regulation of the Activities of Non-profit Organizations Performing the Functions of a Foreign Agent. This law requires foreign-funded organizations that the government considers involved in political activity to register as “foreign agents” and undergo audits. Russia declared OVD-Info as an unregistered foreign agent in September 2021. The group joins a list of 103 other organizations designated as foreign agents.
The blocking of OVD-Info’s website is part of a larger crackdown by Russian authorities in the past year and follows the massive fines imposed on Meta and Google for their repeated failure to take down illegal content.
OVD-Info considers the blocking of its website as state censorship and has stated that it will appeal the court’s decision.