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Russian legislators expect Google to explain blocking of Federal News Agency

November 03, 1:34 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to a lawmaker, "blocking Russian media outlets, affiliated with the Federal News Agency, from Google News cannot but cause serious concern."

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MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. The Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Committee for Information Technologies and Communications expects that Google will provide full explanations of its move to block the Federal News Agency’s content from the Google News aggregator, the Committee’s Chairman Leonid Levin said on Thursday.

According to him, "blocking Russian media outlets, affiliated with the Federal News Agency, from Google News cannot but cause serious concern." Levin stressed that "Russia’s legislation clearly defines ways to restrict the dissemination of illegal information through news aggregators." "This particular case has nothing to do with that. This is why we [the State Duma committee] expect that Google will provide the Russian public with full explanations of its move, which will rule out any misunderstandings," the committee’s press service cited Levin as saying.

He also pointed out that Google News was not a popular service in Russia, so its decision to block the Federal News Agency’s content "is unlikely to affect the Russian information field." "However, the move taken by the US company constitutes a dangerous precedent, making it clear that a news aggregator may turn into a propaganda tool, which may lead to serious consequences, such as attempts to manipulate public opinion," Levin concluded.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the ministry would request Google to explain the reasons for blocking the Federal News Agency’s content. "The Foreign Ministry has received your petition and will now consider it," she said. "We will request Google to explain its reasons for such moves, and we will also send notifications to international bodies. I believe, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media should know about it," Zakharova added.

The Russian diplomat pointed to the need to protect the interests of the Russian media outlets, "which are often violated by our wester counterparts, not only through private organizations but also through law enforcement agencies in various countries," including the United States.

She also recommended that the Federal News Agency make a formal request to Google’s Moscow office, as well as to the Russian institutions dealing with the protection of the Russian media’s interests.

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