Bits.media, a leading news outlet in Russia’s crypto space, has been blocked by Russia’s telecom and mass media watchdog, Roskomnadzor. The site is now inaccessible through most Russian internet providers, the online edition announced, stating it intends to contest the measure.
The block results from a ruling by the Volzhsky District Court of the city of Saratov in a lawsuit initiated by the local prosecutor’s office on March 31. The judge granted the prosecutor’s request on April 24 after considering the case in the absence of the media outlet’s owners, Bits.media explained in a post.
According to the published decision, five URLs were targeted as they contained “information aimed at promoting crimes in the field of legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime.” It remains unclear whether only Bits.media addresses were affected and the formal reason for the measure is unknown. The platform’s founder, Ivan Tikhonov, was quoted as saying:
We are an interested party in the case, but no one notified us of the proceedings. We were not given any opportunity to remove the materials about which the Saratov prosecutor’s office had questions. We strongly disagree with the verdict.
Bits.media plans to appeal the court’s decision as it has already won a similar case in the past. In January 2015, Russian internet regulators blocked the website referring to a ruling by the Nevyansk City Court of the Sverdov region. The local prosecutor motivated his plea with the need to “protect an indefinite circle of persons.” Seven websites were restricted, but the ruling was overturned later that year.
Do you expect Roskomnadzor and the Russian judiciary to take similar steps regarding other crypto news outlets? Tell us in the comments section below.