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Federal censor blocks Russian news websites ‘MBK Media’ and ‘Open Media’ without identifying unlawful content

Source: Meduza

Russia’s federal censor, RKN, has blocked the Russian investigative news outlets Open Media and MBK Media, adding their websites to the government’s blocklist. Spokespeople for Open Media say they received no advance warning that their website would be blocked in Russia. Based on the information available, RKN blocked Open Media on orders from the Russian Attorney General’s Office, which determined that Open Media “incited riots, extremism, or participation in unpermitted demonstrations.”

After the block was announced, Open Media’s editors say they received four messages from RKN demanding the deletion of certain unlawful content, but the messages do not clarify what information is unlawful. Open Media says it will try to resolve the matter soon.

Update: The Russian authorities have also blocked a third project launched by Mikhail Khodorkovsky: the human rights group Pravozashchita Otkrytki.

In July 2021, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated four journalists from Open Media as “foreign agents”: editor-in-chief Yulia Yarosh, deputy chief editor Maxim Glikin, and reporters Ilya Rozhdestvensky and Alexey Posternak.

In March 2021, RKN demanded that Twitter delete MBK Media’s account for allegedly disseminating content created by the Open Russia movement, which Russia outlawed as an “undesirable organization” in 2019. According to RKN, MBK Media’s website itself was already blocked in Russia on orders from the Attorney General’s Office, but the outlet’s URL wasn’t yet included in the federal blocklist.