Russia’s media regulator on Wednesday blocked Google’s news aggregator service, accusing it of providing access to materials containing “unreliable” information about the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
Roskomnadzor, the communications regulator, said it had acted on a request from the office of Russia’s prosecutor general. It said access to the online resource news.google.com has been blocked.
“The American online news resource in question provided access to numerous publications and materials containing inauthentic and publicly important information about the course of the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine,” the regulator was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency Interfax as saying.
In a statement, Google said it had confirmed that “some people are having difficulty accessing the Google News app and website in Russia,” Reuters reported.
“We’ve worked hard to keep information services like News accessible to people in Russia for as long as possible,” the statement read.
It comes weeks after the Russian parliament passed a law that criminalizes the distribution of “fake news” about the country’s military, with those convicted facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The law was passed amid pressure on independent news outlets in Russia following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
Media outlets in Russia are prohibited from using terms like “war,” “invasion” or “assault.” Putin describes the invasion as a “special military operation” and state-run media outlets describe it as such.
Moscow “is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth,” the U.S. State Department said on March 2, as the Kremlin pressured domestic media outlets over coverage of the Ukraine invasion.
Multiple independent media outlets and channels have temporarily suspended their operations in light of the law, including independent television channel TV Rain (Dozhd) and radio station Ekho Moskvy.
On Feb. 26, Roskomnadzor, issued its first warnings to TV Rain and Ekho Moskvy, accusing the outlets of spreading information that calls “for extremism, violence against citizens of the Russian Federation, mass violations of public order and public security.”
TV Rain’s editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the outlet suspended operations because “Russian legislators put us in such [a] situation that makes it impossible to continue working as a journalist.”
“Tomorrow [Friday], a new bill is set to be adopted about allegedly fake news,” he said. “It will make reporting on Ukraine practically impossible, illegal. It poses a threat to all of us, that’s why we made such [a] decision.”
Bloomberg reported that Google has in recent weeks begun quietly relocating its staff from Russia, citing people familiar with the decisions.
The Epoch Times has contacted Google for additional comment.
From The Epoch Times