Russia censors Crimean news website

New York, May 12, 2016 — Authorities in Russia should stop censoring the website of Krym.Realii, the Crimean service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Prosecutors in Crimea -which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014 – announced the blocking of the website in a statement published today. The statement justified the ban on the grounds that Krym.Realii “systematically distributed publications of extremist nature aimed at inciting interethnic hatred,” and published material supporting “actions aimed at destabilizing Russia’s territorial integrity.”

“The right to access to information is a right enshrined in Russia’s constitution and treaties it has signed,” said Muzaffar Suleymanov, senior research associate at CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program. “Prosecutors must uphold this right and immediately restore access to Krym.Realii.”

It was not immediately clear if the ban applied beyond the Crimean Peninsula. The prosecutors’ statement also said that the office of Russia’s Prosecutor General had prepared an official demand to the Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor to block access to Krym.Realii’s website.

RFE/RL decried the ban as an “aggressive act that uses the outrageous pretext of extremism to censor RFE/RL and prevent audiences in Russia and Crimea from learning the truth about the annexation,” in a statement released today.

The blocking of Krym.Realii’s website follows an April 19 arrest raid targeting several Krym.Realii contributors in the region.