The Russian Attorney General’s Office has ordered Roskomnadzor (the state censorship agency) to restrict access to websites containing calls for participation “in illegal rallies on January 23,” reports RIA Novosti, citing the department’s press service.
The requirements were submitted to [Roskomnadzor] on limiting access to illegal information. Individuals calling for illegal actions have been warned against breaking the law.
The Attorney General’s Office added that law enforcement agencies are “focused on taking preventative measures” and, where there are grounds to do so, imposing administrative sanctions on offenders.
On January 20, Roskomnadzor, under the instruction of the Attorney General’s Office, ordered TikTok and VKontakte “to prevent the involvement of minors in unauthorized rallies.” The social networks were told to remove content that incites underage users to participate in illegal protests.
Update. Roskomnadzor has issued a statement warning social networks that they could face administrative fines ranging from 800,000 to 4 million rubles (about $10,850–$54,250) for distributing “information prohibited by law” that’s designed to incite minors to take part in unauthorized protests.
On January 18, Alexey Navalny was remanded in custody until February 15 during a hearing inside a police station in Khimki (near Moscow). Immediately after the hearing, Navalny and his team announced plans to hold rallies in cities across Russia on Saturday, January 23, to protest his detention.
Russia’s prison authorities are seeking to revoke Navalny’s probation in Yves Rocher case and incarcerate him under a reinstated sentence on the grounds that he violated the terms of his probation while in Germany. Navalny returned to Moscow from Berlin on January 17, after spending five months abroad recovering from chemical nerve agent poisoning.
In the lead-up to Saturday’s protests, Navalny’s team offices, Anti-Corruption Foundation, and associates have been targeted by an influx of suspicious followers on social media (as have a number of independent media outlets). Though the exact reason for these “bot attacks” remains unknown, this appears to be an attempt to have opposition figures and independent media outlets banned from the platform.