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Russia restricts online access to DW

March 4, 2022

A number of international news websites, including DW, the BBC and Meduza, are no longer accessible in Russia. Media regulators said Moscow's decision was put forward the same day Russia invaded Ukraine.

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DW is Germany's international broadcaster Image: Marius Becker/dpa/picture alliance

Russian authorities on Friday restricted online access to Deutsche Welle and other global media outlets.

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor said access to the websites of the Russian-language editions of the BBC, the independent platform Meduza and the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Svoboda, had also been "limited."

According to the regulator, prosecutors filed their request to curb access on February 24 — the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war on Ukraine.

Russia had already banned DW's Russian service from broadcasting and withdrawn accreditation from its journalists. 

DW's Editor-in-Chief on closure of Moscow bureau

Controlling the narrative

Russian lawmakers in the State Duma on Friday adopted a bill providing up to 15 years in jail for any publication of "fake news" about Russia's military.

DW's Russian affairs analyst Konstantin Eggert said the legislation "is designed just to shut the people up."

As a result of the new laws, several international media organizations, including the BBC, Bloomberg and Canada's CBC, have suspended their work inside Russia. 

Russian journalists have said that they have been instructed to only publish information provided by official Russian sources, who have been describing the war as a "military operation."

While Russia's state-controlled media have doubled down on the Kremlin's narratives about the situation in Ukraine, other media outlets have been forced to shut down.

On Thursday, Ekho Mosvky radio station closed after being taken off air over its coverage of the Ukraine war. The radio station is majority-owned by Russia's energy giant Gazprom, but it was one of the last liberal-leaning media platforms that was still accessible.

Hours after Ekho Mosvky's announcement, the independent Dozhd TV channel also said it was closing. 

What do Russians think of Putin's war?

Circumventing censorship

Peter Limbourg, DW's director general, called on Russian users to use circumventing methods, such as VPN software, to continue to access DW's content.

"Let us all work together to ensure that the ties between us do not sever altogether," Limbourg said.

"We want to provide you, dear citizens of Russia, with independent information in these difficult times of confrontation. This includes stating clearly that the heavy fighting in Ukraine is the result of a war of aggression ordered by President Putin and for which he is responsible." 

Eggert, who described the Russian "fake news" legislation as "blanket censorship," said that people can still access independent information, but they will "really need to want it."

"As long as there is internet, they can [access information]," he said.