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After protests, Kremlin insists not moving to restrict internet

File photo: People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with binary code and a Russian national flag.  Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Moscow, Russia Mar 11, 2019, 06.07 PM (IST)

Moscow on Monday insisted it was not moving to cut off Russia's internet from the rest of the world, following protests across the country over plans to curb online freedoms.

Rallies took place in Moscow and other cities on Sunday after Russian lawmakers backed a bill to stop the country's internet traffic being routed on foreign servers, in a bid to boost cybersecurity.

"Everyone is in favour of internet freedom -- the authors of the bill, the presidential administration and the government," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

"No one is suggesting cutting the internet or limiting the opportunity to work on the World Wide Web," he said, adding that protesters were suffering from "delusions".

Activists say the bill is another censorship bid following previous efforts in Russia to control global social networking platforms and block the Telegram messenger service.

Russian authorities have also used "anti-extremism" laws to prosecute people who share posts that are critical of the regime, or in some cases simply humorous.

Organisers said more than 15,000 people turned up to the Moscow protest, with smaller events taking place in other cities.

OVD-Info, a rights group and news website that tracks arrests, said 29 people were detained at the rally in the capital, including a journalist.

Story highlights

Rallies took place in Moscow and other cities on Sunday after Russian lawmakers backed a bill to stop the country's internet traffic being routed on foreign servers, in a bid to boost cybersecurity.