Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the leadership in Russia has been actively manipulating the flow of information in and out of the nation. Media restrictions have tightened with the Russian people becoming misinformed by fake news and extreme down-playing of current events. This campaign against the free press is detrimental to the world and could lead to situations more extreme than censorship in the aftermath of the war.
History of Russia’s Censorship
Russia has a history of censoring internet access. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia had a seemingly open internet until 2012 when it passed the first internet restriction bill. As a result of this legislation, prosecutors have the ability to block domains in Russia that are deemed “dangerous”. This created a system where websites could be blocked for simply disagreeing with the Kremlin. The following decade, Russia increased the strength of the bill and promoted wider censorship. Russia even extended the law to arrest journalists and activists with arrests increasing every year. In 2018 restrictions began for VPN providers, requiring all providers, including ourselves, to give up traffic logs. The increased level of censorship has created state-driven hostility towards independent news sources with new restrictions being enacted since the invasion of Ukraine.
How News in Russia is Now Censored
Wielding totalitarian fist, Putin has enacted extreme measures to control news media within the State. A recent law passed on March 2nd, 2022 limited how news publications in Russia can describe the invasion of Ukraine. This law criminalizes journalists and news organizations for airing “false” information, allowing the government to control the narrative of their military aggression. For example, calling their military actions an “invasion” or “war” can land you up to 15 years in prison. This has forced foreign and independent media to flee in fear of violating the law. As Russia further isolates itself from the world, its people will become inundated with only the Kremlin perspective.
What do we know about the Social Media Ban in Russia?
The censorship in Russia has been widespread with punishments for both social media platforms and the users. The country was known for attacking social media platforms for posts deemed offensive to the Kremlin and arresting people who post about organizing protests. The government began blocking access to social media on March 5th, 2022 The justification behind the block was retaliation against Facebook and Twitter for banning state-backed accounts such as RT and Sputnik, RIA and more. This added danger to social media is why so many Russian people are using a VPN to bypass censorship.
How the Russian People Are Affected by False Information?
Putin’s use of false information regarding the invasion of Ukraine has been plaguing the Russian citizens since the start of the conflict. State-owned media has been hiding the truth, and many Russians don’t believe that the "special military operation” has caused massive destruction to Ukrainian cities or is a humanitarian crises. The disparity between Russian reporting and reports from reputable sources have brought concern that the Russian people have accepted new policies and laws based on one-sided information. This manipulation is already causing damage on an individual level, tearing families apart due to disagreements of information.
If Russia drags out the invasion, it will lead to even greater restrictions on the media and internet. Russia’s rejection of independent news media points to a future with more uncertainty within the nation that could jeopardize Russian prosperity going forward.
How to Combat Censorship in Russia?
It is critical for journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens to protect themselves online. Luckily, there are ways to keep your internet access free while remaining private.
Russia tried to block Tor, yet it remains one of the safest ways to privately use the internet. “The onion router”, better known as Tor, allows you to access the Clearnet and Dark Web by routing your connection through different layers called nodes. These layers keep your personal information from being tracked. Tor is especially helpful for whistleblowers and journalists in Russia who use the dark web to anonymously share information outside of the country.
For an average internet user who wants to regain access to social media platforms, news sites and keep online activity private, using a VPN is the best solution. While connected to a VPN server, all data is encrypted and your IP address is concealed, allowing you to securely access any website or content blocked by the Russian government. VyprVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee so that you can test our service risk-free. Finally, make sure the provider has a strict no-log policy to prevent the Russian government from accessing your personal information or traffic data.