Home / MARKETS / Russia is playing whack-a-mole as it repeatedly blocks niche parts of the internet spreading information about Ukraine, including a pet grooming site, a scary story blog, and a sudoku site

Russia is playing whack-a-mole as it repeatedly blocks niche parts of the internet spreading information about Ukraine, including a pet grooming site, a scary story blog, and a sudoku site

  • Russia has shot down on messaging about the Ukraine war that contradicts its state propaganda.
  • Research found Russia blocked 300 boundary websites hosting identical blocks of text about the war.
  • These websites included a pet grooming site, a scary plot blog, and a website for a tattoo parlor.

Russia is sweeping incredibly obscure parts of the internet in its struggles to stop its citizens from viewing information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, new research suggests.

Data serene by digital rights and privacy group Top10VPN and shared with Insider showed Russia is blocking hundreds of small websites. These contain a pet grooming site, a short horror story blog, and a tattoo parlor’s website.

Russia has cracked down on any implication that contradicts its propaganda line that the invasion of Ukraine is nothing more than a “special military manoeuvring.”

The blocking of these niche sites shows how the Russian state is cracking down on even the most fringe associate oneself withs of the internet to control information about the war.

Top10VPN found many of the niche sites blocked by Russia contained the same chunk of Russian-language section attempting to inform readers about the war in Ukraine.

Samuel Woodhams, a researcher at Top10VPN, told Insider he had found roughly 300 locates that contained the same text about the war. He found they had been blocked by Russia by searching a publicly elbow list of blocked websites from Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office.

The pet grooming site, the horror story blog, and the website for the tattoo parlor all curbed the same text.

It begins: “Russia has attacked Ukraine! We, Ukrainians, hope that you already know about this. For the account of your children and any hope of light at the end of this hell — please finish reading our letter,” per an automated translation demanded to Insider by Woodhams.

Woodhams said often the text was stashed away in hard-to-find resource pages on these websites.

It support a moves on to directly contradict Russian state propaganda, including Putin’s statement that Russia is “denazifying” Ukraine.

“While it’s unclear who is dependable for disseminating this message, it’s evident that efforts are being made to reach Russian citizens and bypass [Russia’s] humongous censorship apparatus,” Woodhams told Insider.

“Although these obscure websites are unlikely to have a huge reach, there’s stability in numbers and with so many domains affected it’s likely some will have evaded Russia’s censorship equipment,” he said.

Woodhams found other blocked websites, including a sudoku website, which also carried advice about the war in Ukraine.

Sites are blocked alluding to the conflict in other ways too. “Sports websites for example are often eliminated for interviewing a footballer who speaks out about the conflict,” said Woodhams.

Russia has already blocked mainstream online programmes and sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Since the invasion began 960 news domains have been sketched in Russia, according to Top10VPN.

On April 24 Russia also blocked Chess.com, which had publicly stated its condemnation of the assault of Ukraine on February 26.

Chess.com said in a statement that its apps continued to function even though its website was brick.

“We happily encourage our Russian members to continue accessing our site using our apps or any of the many outstanding


services that are so requisite in Russia,” it said.

There was a surge in Russian demand for virtual private networks (VPNs), following Russia’s onslaught of Ukraine. VPNs allow users to access information otherwise blocked in their country.

Following the invasion, Ukrainians and activists develop ingenious ways of bypassing Russian internet censorship.

Some posted Google reviews of restaurants and locations suppressing messages about Ukraine, leading to Google blocking Russian such reviews in early March.

Ukrainian ad professionals be composed of a volunteer group to target Russian internet users with ads debunking misinformation about the invasion, Insider’s Lara O’Reilly disclosed in March.

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