The Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor has sent out its first notices to bloggers that it wants on its registry, launched on Friday.
According to Izvestia, the first to receive notices include far-left writer Eduard Limonov, satirist Mikhail Zadornov, comedian Mikhail Galustyan, travel photographer Sergey Dolya, blogger mi3ch (Dmitry Chernyshev), crime novelist Boris Akunin and News Media CEO Ashot Gabrelyanov.
Vladimir Putin recently signed amendments to Russian communications law that created this registry, in order to place prominent bloggers under the same restrictions placed on traditional journalists — an interesting condition to place on satire. Any blogger with more than 3,000 readers can voluntarily sign up, but registration is mandatory if Roskomnadzor demands it.
Registered bloggers have to disclose their true identity, avoid hate speech, “extremist calls” and even obscene language. They also can’t slander anyone, and must verify any information before publishing it. If they break these rules, they face fines of between $285 and $14,285, according to RT.
RT also reported that Yandex has stopped publishing blog statistics and the LiveJournal platform now tops out its readership stats at “2500+”, in order to protest and bypass the law, but that “state officials noted that they had their own tools for counting visitors and promised that the law would be enforced properly.”
All this expands a crackdown on free speech in Russia that’s been going on since Putin returned to the presidency in 2012. Another one of his new laws mandates that any personal information about Russian citizens must be stored on Russian soil. As the likes of Facebook and Twitter don’t have Russian data centers, this also creates the opportunity to block such platforms in Russia, if Putin finds it necessary.