Twitter defies demands to block “extremist” pages in Russia

Twitter defies demands to block "extremist" pages in Russia

24 June 2014
Text Nadia Beard

Twitter has defied requests from media watchdog Roskomnadzor to shut down 12 accounts belonging to “Russian-speaking extremists”. Although Alexander Zharov, head of communications at Roskomnadzor, claimed on Monday that Twitter had agreed to the request, the microblogging service has denied this. A spokesman for Twitter, Nu Wexler, said in a statement: “That claim is inaccurate as we did not agree to remove the accounts.”

Last month, Twitter blocked access to an account linked to Ukrainian far-right nationalist group Right Sector, just days after threats were made by Roskomnadzor’s deputy head Maxim Ksenzov to shut down the social networking site if it failed to comply with orders.

Ksenzov later recanted his statement that blocking Twitter and Facebook “would be inevitable”. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was quick to deny plans to block the site, writing on his Facebook page that “some officials in charge of the industry’s development should use their brain from time to time”.

Zharov also announced that Roskomnadzor would soon translate its blogger laws and regulations into English, so that the documents could be forwarded to Twitter to inform them about the latest developments in Russian press legislation.

Separately, a new copyright law could make Twitter users liable to prosecution, with re-tweets authored by another person seen as intellectual property theft. The new bill follows on from an anti-video piracy law passed last August, which allows websites disseminating television series or films without a licence to be closed down based on complaints from copyright holders.