Russia’s Internet provider ‘Yota’ acts to censor opposition websites

New fears of Internet censorship spread in the Russian blogosphere Monday after a wireless Internet provider co-owned by Russian Technologies acknowledged blocking access to some web sites. Moscow-based users of the Yota provider have been unable to access web sites such as Garry Kasparov’s, Solidarity’s and the banned National Bolshevik Party’s over the past few weeks, bloggers and the sites’ editors said. Access also was patchy until Sunday to the site of opposition magazine The New Times, its web editor Ilya Barabanov said Monday. Yota denied that it was blocking those sites. But Denis Sverdlov, chief executive of WiMax operator Skartel, which runs the Yota brand, did acknowledge that Yota blocks access to sites that are classified as extremist by the Justice Ministry. Because of that, Yota users cannot open the Chechen rebel web site As for users’ lack of access to the opposition web sites, Sverdlov blamed technical difficulties that arose after Yota introduced new IP addresses to cope with the rapid growth of its customer base. As proof that there was no censorship, he said President Dmitry Medvedev’s official site at was at times inaccessible as well.


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