Russia Blocks Access To Pro-Ukraine Websites While Pro-Russian Sites Recruit Fighters

Russians cannot access social network sites linked to Ukraine’s protest movements. But they can reach a webpage with instructions on how to the “fight for Ukraine.”

Russia’s general prosecutor on Monday confirmed that it had blocked 13 internet pages sympathetic to Ukraine’s protest movement, claiming the groups “propagandized the activity of Ukrainian nationalist groups,” and encouraged “terrorist activity.” Ukrainian activists first raised the alarm on March 1 that certain webpages on Vkontakte, Russia’s Facebook equivalent, could not be reached.

Russia’s highly controlled media has been actively distorting news out of Ukraine, downplaying anti-government Ukrainian protests and dismissing demonstrators as Western-funded fascists bent on Russia’s demise. Russian media has also justified its mobilization of troops in Crimea, a Russian stronghold in Ukraine, as a necessary move to stem sectarian violence, though none appears to be in evidence.

In the meantime, new webpages on Russian social networks have popped up to recruit supporters. One such page, “Civil Defense of Ukraine,” has almost 4,000 likes on Vkontakte. The webpage advertises three ways to “contribute to the Ukraine struggle”: You can go to Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Odessa, Ukraine, “the important centers of resistance”; take part in social networking fights, or transfer money via several listed banks. The webpage also provides specific names and contact info. An accompanying Google form lists calls for males aged 18–45 in Ukraine, or ready to go there, to sign up.

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