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As tensions are alleged to be flaring between the Russian military and Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a prominent mercenary leader, access to Google News in Russia has been stonewalled. While little is known about what is actually happening in the region, with alarming claims being made from both sides, the blockade ensues amid allegations from Russian generals, who reportedly accuse Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner Group, of conspiring to orchestrate pushback against President Vladimir Putin.
While Google has not issued a statement so far, the consequences on the ground are evident. Internet freedom in Russia is taking a hit, as NetBlocks, an internet watch service, discerned that a multitude of internet service providers (ISPs) are curbing access to the platform.
NetBlocks’ analysis revealed that Rostelecom, U-LAN, and Telplus are among the at least five ISPs obstructing access to the news service. It has also been observed that the bandwidth allocated to Google News has been deliberately trimmed by several other ISPs.
This development is only a fragment of a bigger picture, where President Putin has been steadily amassing power through an intricate technological apparatus, as well as working on ways to block VPNs in the country.
Roskomnadzor, the Russian censorship body, plays an integral role in this machinery, which is committed to meticulously overseeing the internet within Russia.