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Lower house approves law on blocking web resources for censorship of Russian media

The scope of the draft document includes YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, allowing the media watchdog to partially or fully restrict access to these resources

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. The State Duma (lower house of parliament) approved a draft law granting the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media the right to block internet resources discriminating against Russian media outlets in the third reading at a plenary session on Wednesday.

The bill introduces a special status of the "owner of an information resource involved in violations of the basic human rights and freedoms and rights and freedoms of Russian citizens." The prosecutor general and his deputies acting in coordination with the Foreign Ministry could be empowered to assign such a status to the owner of an information resource that permits discrimination against the content of Russian mass media.

The scope of the document includes major internet resources such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The media watchdog may get the right to partially or fully restrict access to these resources. As one of the architects of the bill, legislator Anton Gorelkin, told TASS that such web resources may face a fine of up to 3 million rubles (over $39,000). The corresponding amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations will be introduced to the State Duma later.

Another author of this bill, chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications Alexander Khinshtein noted earlier that the draft law encompasses all resources regardless of their registration, if their content is in Russian and is designated for Russian nationals. At the same time, the lawmaker said that blocking YouTube in Russia is an extreme and not very realistic measure.

The document was introduced to the State Duma by a group of lawmakers and senator Alexei Pushkov on November 19.