Bits.media, a major news outlet in the Russian crypto space, has been blocked by Roskomnadzor, a Russian communications and mass media monitoring agency. The site is now inaccessible from most Russian Internet providers, and the online version has announced that it intends to challenge the measure.
Roskomnadzor denies Russians access to Bits.media
Encrypted news siteBits.mediawas unavailable to most of its readers in Russia this week, and its team found that the Russian media censorship agency Roskomnadzor was to blame. This government agency added an unspecified number of pages to its registry of Internet sources that disseminate prohibited information.
The block stems from a ruling by the Volzhsky District Court of Saratov in a lawsuit filed by the local prosecutor’s office on March 31; according to a Bits.media post, the judge reviewed the case in the absence of the media outlet’s owner, and then on April April 24, he granted the prosecutor’s request.
According to the published ruling, five URLs were targeted for containing “information aimed at facilitating crimes in the area of legalization (laundering) of criminal proceeds.” whether only the Bits.media address was affected remains unclear, and the official The official reason for this action is also unclear. Ivan Tikhonov, the platform’s founder, is quoted as saying.
We are stakeholders in this case, but no one has informed us of the proceedings. We were not even given the opportunity to remove the material questioned by the Saratov Prosecutor’s Office. We strongly oppose the verdict.
Bits.media plans to appeal the court’s decision, having already won a similar case in the past.In January 2015, the Russian Internet regulator ruled that the Nebyansk City Court in Sverdov region blocked the website in reference to the case. Local prosecutors motivated by the need to “protect an unspecified circle of people.”
Seven websites were restricted, but the ruling was overturned later that year.
Then, in March 2020, Roskomnadzor blacklisted five websites offering information and services related to cryptocurrencies; the forum section of Bits.media was also targeted; and the Russian government’s “cryptocurrency” section of Bits.media was also targeted. However, like the current websites, they were available in Russia via VPN and browser plug-ins.
Other operators of Russian crypto platforms also successfully challenged such decisions: in March 2018, the St. Petersburg Municipal Court struck down a ban on 40 websites publishing crypto content. The following month, Russia’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling restricting access to the Bitcoinfo.ru portal.In May 2019, Roskomnadzor had to remove Bestchange.ru from its register after prosecutors gave up their efforts to block the website had to.
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