Russia blocks websites linked to Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky – News Vibe24

    Russia blocks websites linked to Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky - Times of India
    MOSCOW: A human rights group and two media outlets linked to self-exiled Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky announced on Thursday that they were closing down under pressure from authorities following the blocking of their websites.
    The Russian opposition says authorities are stepping up a campaign of intimidation against independent media and dissidents in the run-up to parliamentary elections in September. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.
    On Wednesday afternoon, Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor restricted access to the Open Media and MBKh Media websites, as well as the website of the human rights group Pravozashchita Otkrytki at the request of prosecutors, they said.
    On Thursday, the media and the rights group said they were closing down to protect staff from persecution.
    Veronika Kutsyllo, former editor-in-chief of MBKh Media, said the risks were “too great” for the medium to continue operating.
    “The country is rapidly falling into some incredible feudal darkness,” he said on Facebook.
    In a statement on Twitter, Open Media said that the Russian authorities do not want critical media. “But at least we tried,” he said.
    Both media outlets were founded by Khodorkovsky in 2017 and were critical of the Kremlin.
    A number of independent organizations and media groups have been banned in Russia in recent months as part of growing opposition repression ahead of the September parliamentary elections.
    Open Russia, an opposition group founded by Khodorkovsky, was described as an “undesirable” organization in Russia in 2017, under a law targeting foreign groups accused of political interference. In May, the group said it was closing down to protect its members from persecution.
    Pivovarov, the former executive director of Open Russia, retired from a plane bound for Warsaw in June and is currently in custody. The 39-year-old faces up to six years in prison for participating in an “undesirable” organization.
    Khodorkovsky, who owned the oil giant Yukos before being convicted in two controversial cases and spent a decade behind bars, now lives abroad.
    In July, authorities outlawed Proekt, one of the country’s last independent media outlets to focus on in-depth reporting on the wealth of Russian elites, including President Vladimir Putin. The editor-in-chief of Roman Badanin has left Russia.
    That same month, media outlets shut down 49 websites linked to Kremlin jail critic Alexei Navalny, including the main website
    Russia’s parliamentary vote will take place from September 17 to September 19.
    On Wednesday, international observers said they would not send observers to Russia for the September election because of limited numbers imposed by Russian authorities.


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