Russia’s Internet watchdog has demanded that Twitter delete the account held by the ‘Open Russia’ movement, viewed as an undesirable group in Russia, and has threatened to ban access to the whole microblog service if Twitter does not comply.
Open Russia’s press service on Wednesday told Interfax that Roskomnadzor had sent Twitter a notice that its services will be blocked on the territory of the Russian Federation if it does not delete Open Russia’s account within 24 hours. According to the press service, Twitter had forwarded the document to Open Russia, pointing out that the demand was in line with the order of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, to limit public access to websites displaying illegal information.
Representatives of the Open Russia movement also commented on Interfax that they had addressed Twitter with their own letter, in which they claimed that the group was not violating any laws and further alleged that Roskomnadzor’s letter was violating people’s right to free speech.
Earlier this week Russia blocked Open Russia’s internet site because of violations of new Russian legislation governing undesirable organizations. Several websites belonging to Open Russia’s ancillary projects were blocked as well.
The Open Russia NGO was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and close allies in 2001. After the demise of his YUKOS oil company and a subsequent judicial process, the organization ceased to exist. When Khodorkovsky was released from prison in December 2013 and left the Russian Federation, Open Russia was re-launched as a network aiming to assist the “Europe-oriented part of the Russian society.” Open Russia’s website claims it was formed “on Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s initiative,” but says nothing about the source(s) of its funds.
In April this year the Justice Ministry put Open Russia on a list of undesirable organizations. Open Russia took a case to court, but in early October judges in Moscow upheld the Justice Ministry’s decision.
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