Still quite free until recently, the Internet has been brought largely under control since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012. The Internet had played a key role in the major protest movement that rocked Russia in the preceding months and the Maidan uprising in Kiev reinforced Kremlin paranoia. Created in 2012 to “protect children,” the blacklist of blocked websites keeps on getting longer. Since February 2014, sites deemed to be transmitting “calls to participate in unauthorized demonstrations” can be blocked without a court order. As a result, the news and information websites Grani.ru, EJ.ru and Kasparov.ru were rendered inaccessible one month and a half later. Since the summer of 2014, influential bloggers have to register under their real names and comply with requirements similar to those imposed on the media. And they are now criminally responsible for the comments that visitors post on their sites.
Russia is ranked #152 over 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.