Internet freedom violations in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. December-2016 review

Finally it was confirmed that disappeared blogger in the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” was arrested. Russian authorities imprisoned blogger for the criticism of the Syrian war and russian media seriously thought that blocking of Youtube, Facebook and Google could be real. At the same time Ukrainians worry they won’t be able to book accomondation in Booking.com. Read more about major violations and threats for the Internet freedom in our brief December review.

Twenty three cases were fixed on the map of Internet freedom violations.
Twenty three cases were put on the map of Internet freedom violations.

Ukraine

Booking.com might be blocked in Ukraine. The proceedings were initiated by the Prosecutor of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The world-famous booking web-site is accused of placing ads of the Ukrainian hotels that were illegally taken after the annexation of the Crimea.

Pirate web-sites are closing. Cyberpolice of Ukraine removed Baltazar.org.ua servers. A few weeks before the same action was took against online-cinema FS.TO. Turned out that it was closed baceause of tax evasion, not copyright violations.

Russia blocks Ukrainian online-media. Lithuanian company turned off the server where was hosted web-site of Ivano-Frankivsk newspaper “Reporter”. The Russian state agency «Roskomnadzor» complained on the article about “Right Sector”. This is the second time when Russian side is blocking access to this resource.

Ukrainian blogger was arrested by pro-russian separatists in Luhansk. Gennady Benytskyy recently criticized illegal authorities in his social networks, describing the city life.  Gennady was a friend in Facebook with another local blogger Edward Nedelyaevym who was arrested and accused of collaboration with the Security Service of Ukraine.

The Russian Federation

In the context of blocking access to LinkedIn, Russian media took seriously news about the possible closure of access to web-giants like Youtube, Facebook and Google. Although all rumors were refuted.

Closing Youtube and Google News could have been real because of news Russian laws and bills. They contain vague wording that could theoretically allow the blocking of US web-sites. Facebook was attacked by Russian that appealed to court. According to Timur Bulatov, Facebook is “a threat to national security” and distributes “immoral and anti-family ideology.” The court rejected the petition.

Harassment of dissidents continues. Russian from Tyumen put in prison for an anti-Kremlin article about Syrian war. Alex Kunhurov was sentenced for two years and six months because he «justified the terrorism”. Year ago blogger published in his LiveJournal-page an article “Who is really bombed by Putin’s thugs?”

No wonder why another Russian blogger requested asylum status in Ukraine. Any details about this man are under secret. It is known that he went to the Ukrainian-Belarus border where claimed he is afraid to stay in Russia for criticizing the Kremlin’s policy.

Blogger Alexei Knedlyakovsky was arrested in Krasnodar. Official reason – he placed a cross on the monument of the Soviet chekist Felix Dzerzhinsky  on the FSB-day. Activist was jailed for 15 days. In response he announced the beginning of a hunger strike.

Belarus

No TOR. Belarusian authorities began to hinder the access to Internet by using browser TOR that allows users stay invisible and bypass the blocks.

No streaming. Belarusian police detained two journalists of web-edition “Nasha Niva”. They were broadcasting the opposition rally. Activists were flying many white-red-white flags on the streets of Minsk. A few hours later journalists were released, offcials says it was an error.

The web-site “Belarusian partisan” was temporarily unavailable. It was founded by murdered this Summer journalist Pavlo Sheremet. Now web-site is available at the new address – belpartisan.org. The reason for blocking resource is that hosting company failed to obtain confirmation of the former owner.

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