Russia closes digital media and networks to fight its war in Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin’s sweeping crackdown on the media and social media indicates the government’s determination to stifle any dissenting voices on the Ukraine conflict, even if it might mean cutting off Russia’s internet from the rest of the world, experts say. .

An example of the attempt to isolate information that could jeopardize its invasion of Ukraine is the blocking of the social network Facebook.

The often-criticized social network is part of a network of information sources that may challenge the Kremlin’s preferred view of the justice and necessity of its invasion.

The Facebook block and Twitter restriction announced Friday came on the same day Moscow backed jail terms for media that publish “false information” about the military.

Russia’s motivation “is to suppress political challenges at a very tense time for (Vladimir) Putin and the regime, when it comes to those who are asking very difficult questions about why Russia is continuing to wage this war,” said Steven Feldstein, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Russia thus joins the tiny club of countries that exclude Facebook, the world’s largest social network, along with China and North Korea.

Moscow was expected to quickly overpower its neighbor, but the campaign has already shown signs it could last longer and could unleash great military ferocity.

“It’s a censorship tool of last resort,” Feldstein added. “They’re shutting down an entire platform instead of trying to block specific pages or using all sorts of other mechanisms that are traditionally used,” he said.

Earlier this week, the independent monitoring group OVD-Info said that more than 7,000 people in Russia had been detained in demonstrations over the Moscow-launched invasion of Ukraine.

Web monitoring group NetBlocks noted that Russia’s moves against social media giants come amid protests “which are coordinated and mobilized through social media and messaging apps.”

Meanwhile, the war is taking place during a period of unprecedented repression against the Russian opposition, which has included the murder, imprisonment or expulsion of protest leaders from the country.

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