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“Restoring Order to Russian Internet”

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




Russia’s Ministry of Communications has drafted a new law that would “restore order in the Russian internet.” Under the proposed amendments, foreign websites could also be held accountable. Websites would fall under Russian jurisdiction if they were accessible to users within Russia, if technical equipment used to distribute information was located in Russia, or if the websites inflicted damage inside the territory of the Russian Federation.

At present, Russian legislation is ambiguous in relation to the internet. Russian authorities have tried to go after websites registered outside Russia, such as the mouthpiece of the North-Caucasian armed resistance movement, Kavkaz Center, which is located in Sweden. In 2008, after a court in Moscow ordered the closure of an opposition website in Ingushetia, Ingushetia.Org, the website was quickly reregistered in France.

Russian MP Ilya Ponomaryov notes that it should not matter where websites that distribute illegal material are located. “If the content of the website is accessible to just one Russian citizen, the persons guilty for distributing the illegal material should be held accountable under Russian law,” he said. Following a court decision to close down a website, Russian authorities would turn to the law enforcement agencies in the country concerned.

The proposed amendments were drafted at the end of May 2010 by a working group consisting of representatives of Russia’s Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Justice, Federal Security Service (FSB), Federal Protective Service (FSO), state heritage agency (Rosokhrankultury), federal communications regulator (Roskomnadzor), several public organisations, and representatives of businesses operating in the sphere of communication.



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