Russian Attorney General Yuri Chaika has proposed granting regional prosecutors the authority to block websites without any judicial oversight, if the websites spread information about preparations for unsanctioned political demonstrations and calls to mass unrest.
Speaking to an assembly of federal lawmakers, Chaika explained that blocking websites spreading such information is currently possible only with a court order, or through appeals to Russia's federal censor, Roskomnadzor, by the Attorney General.
Chaika argued that prosecutors' power to block websites for spreading information about illegal protests should be the same as its existing extra-judicial authority to block websites for spreading extremist content. Responding quickly in these matters is essential, the attorney general said.
In December 2013, Russia adopted legislation empowering the Attorney General to block websites spreading materials believed to be extremist. Human rights activists and free speech advocates criticized the law, saying it amounted to unjustified Internet censorship.
In the past 2.5 years, prosecutors have blocked roughly a thousand websites for spreading extremism, including the oppositionist news sources Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru, Ezhednevnyi Zhurnal, and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny's blogs on LiveJournal and Echo of Moscow.