BBC ‘blocked in Russia’ following Kremlin criticism

A number of Western-affiliated broadcasters and news outlets no longer appear to be accessible in Russia.

04 March 2022

BBC Russia says there have been reports there are problems accessing its website in Russia.

However, there has been no confirmation if the BBC has been banned by the Kremlin.

BBC Russia also said the domain https://bbc.com has not been added to the registry of banned sites.

German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported, in Russian, that the BBC site was not working in Russia.

According to a tweet posted by BBC Russian in Russian and translated into English, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) also appears to be blocked in the country.

The series of tweets (translated from Russian by the site’s in-built Google translator) stated: “Block tracking services report that there are problems accessing the BBC Russian Service website in Russia.

“The domain https://bbc.com is not listed in Roskomnadzor’s registry of banned sites.”

Also blocked are the Russian- and English-language online newspaper and news aggregator Meduza, the US government-funded broadcaster Radio Liberty and Google Play.

Roskomnadzor is the Kremlin’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media which maintains a official mandatory list of sites banned in Russia.

It comes after the Kremlin accused the BBC of playing a “determined role in undermining the Russian stability and security”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the banning of Russian media RT and Sputnik, claiming the world was being deprived of Russia’s point of view and Western media was only giving one side.

Her comments came hours after calls from UK Government figures to ban the Kremlin-backed state broadcaster.

According to a translation from RT, Ms Zakharova said the only reason Russian journalists could still work in the UK was “related to London fears that (the) BBC might be targeted in Russia because it plays a determined role in undermining the Russian stability and security”.

She said: “We haven’t invented that because it stems from the statement by the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.”

Responding to her comments, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “You know the PM’s spoken before about the importance of an independent press and the fact that it’s important that the BBC is editorially independent and can continue to do the excellent work that they do.”

It comes as UK watchdog Ofcom opened 27 investigations into the “due impartiality” of programmes broadcast on RT news channel, formerly known as Russia Today.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said RT should lose its licence and “never again” be able to broadcast “poisonous propaganda”.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss warned on Monday that the BBC risked being banned in Russia if RT was shut down in the UK.

She said a “careful judgment” was required as retaliatory action against the BBC would harm efforts to ensure Russians “hear the truth” about the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia tweeted: “#Zakharova: Over the past few days, the real rather than the declared merit of the so-called Western values has become crystal clear.

“What is happening now in the information landscape is actually depriving Russia of any opportunity to convey its point of view.”

The BBC has seen a surge in the Russian language service being used following the Ukraine invasion.

The year-to-date weekly average audience for the broadcaster’s Russian language news website has more than tripled, according to the corporation.

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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