News site founded by Pussy Riot activists blocked in Russia
Russian news outlet MediaZona, founded in 2014 by members of the anarchist punk group Pussy Riot, has been blocked by the country's media regulator.
On Sunday, MediaZona issued a statement saying that Roskomnadzor had demanded that it delete the entire website following an order from the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Zona.media can be found on the watchdog’s registry of restricted internet resources.
According to the statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office, quoted by MediaZona, the outlet has been punished for posting “deliberately false socially significant information that poses a threat of harm” to the life or health of citizens and risks the “mass disruption of public order” and “public safety.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office specifically pointed to information about what it called the “alleged attack by Russia on the territory of Ukraine,” according to MediaZona.
According to the authorities, the information on the site does not correspond to “official sources” and therefore creates “panic among people” and creates “the prerequisites for massive violations of public order and public safety.”
“We are forbidden to call war a war and speak honestly about it,” MediaZona said in response to the order.
The site, which was designated as a ‘foreign agent’ last year along with its editor-in-chief, Sergey Smirnov, and publisher Pyotr Verzilov, pledged to keep working.
The Prosecutor General’s Office also recently ordered Roskomnadzor to restrict access to Echo of Moscow radio and TV Rain, also citing coverage of the Ukraine crisis.
As a result, Echo of Moscow has been closed and TV Rain suspended its work.
Roskomnadzor has also limited access to US state-funded outlet Radio Svoboda (Radio Liberty), Deutsche Welle, and the BBC, and blocked news website Meduza.
Russian lawmakers also approved legislation that could see people imprisoned for 15 years if found guilty of peddling false information about the actions of the army.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the military invasion of Ukraine is necessary to urgently “demilitarize” the country, to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and to defend Russian national security amid NATO’s repeated eastward expansion. The West has responded to the attack by imposing harsh sanctions on Moscow.