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Leonid Bershidsky

Russia Starts Building Chinese Wall To Block Internet

On July 10, the Russian-language Wikipedia greeted its millions of users with a largely blank page and a message asking them to “imagine a world without free knowledge.” The impetus for the web site's one-day protest: Russia's leaders are moving toward the creation of a "great firewall," along Chinese lines, to limit what the country's Internet users can see and read.

The next day, the lower house of Russia's parliament passed a bill that, while ostensibly aimed at protecting children from information that could be “harmful to their health and development,” allows broad censorship of the Internet. It sets up an official roster of websites containing forbidden information, including child pornography, “propaganda of drug use,” information that “may cause children to undertake actions threatening their life or health” or “any other information banned by court decisions.”