MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) – A number of websites, including two leading online publications with a track record of criticizing corruption, have been banned by a court in Russia’s Ulyanovsk Region for “promoting bribery.”
The banned publications’ sites include prominent opposition-minded news website Gazeta.ru and Kp.ru, the online domain for Komsomolskaya Pravda, a generally pro-Kremlin tabloid that, however, regularly crusades against corruption in the country, Gazeta.ru reported on Tuesday.
The websites, along with 13 others, were found to be publishing instructions on how to bribe officials and dodge persecution, Kp.ru reported, citing court materials.
The publications “promoted popular opinion about…the impunity of such crimes” and “discredited the state authorities,” the regional Prosecutor General’s Office, which filed the lawsuit, said on its website.
Prosecutors did not sue the websites directly, but instead requested the court to have the local branch of internet service provider Rostelecom shut down access to the offending media, the report said.
Both Gazeta.ru and Komsomolskaya Pravda said on Tuesday they had not been informed about the lawsuit – which was granted in late May – or even about which articles were found promoting bribery, and only recently learned about the ban from readers’ complaints.
Ulyanovsk Region has three other major internet service providers, which were not included in the lawsuit for unclear reasons.
The ban only covered certain articles, not entire websites, but the provider had no technical means of blacklisting selected web pages and had to shut off access to entire websites, a Rostelecom representative told Gazeta.ru.
Repeated calls to the Ulyanovsk Prosecutor General’s Office went unanswered on Monday.
The Russian authorities have significantly increased attempts to regulate the internet in recent months, introducing an extrajudicial blacklist for websites considered harmful to children and fast-tracking through the lower house of parliament this month a stringent copyright law.