As the legislative elections that will be held between 17 and 19 September approach, Russia is increasing its control over the internet, as recent news shows. The last move in chronological order passes through a court.
On September 14, the Russian court in Tagansky imposed fines on operators of social networks and messaging apps for not deleting content that Moscow deems illegal, such as references to an app linked to the opponent of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, now in jail. The penalties amount to 21 million rubles ($ 287,850) and have hit Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.
Against the “smart vote”
Russia previously accused Google and Apple of election interference because they refused to remove the same app, called Navalny, from their stores. The application is an attempt to catalyze the “smart voting” of the opposition by suggesting which independent candidates have the best chance of winning in each election. Google would also be asked to ban references to the phrase “smart vote” in its search engine.
In Russia in the next few days 450 members of the lower house, the Duma, will be elected, as well as various local representatives. Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party currently holds 334 seats in the Duma, but the president’s popularity is waning.
The blocking of the network
The site dedicated to “smart voting” has been blacked out in recent days and the authorities are trying to make it unreachable in every way. The Russian telecommunications giant Rostelecom, the country’s main provider of digital services, has asked its subsidiaries in a letter to ban access to Google’s DNS servers and Cloudflare. Dns are databases of websites that allow you to bypass any domain blocks in some parts of the world.
The news circulated when the letter from Rostelecom appeared on the Telegram channel ZaTelecom. The authenticity of the note was then confirmed to the Russian media Rbk by a representative of the company. The official goal of this novelty would be to “organize stable internet access”. In practice, this is another way to prevent the bypassing of blocks on sites and apps that are banned from Moscow