'We Will Not Comply:' RFE/RL Rejects Russian Media Regulator's Demand To Remove Content

RFE/RL has rejected Russian state media-monitoring agency Roskomnadzor's threat to block its Current Time website in Russia unless it deletes information about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly, referring to a warning from Roskomnadzor on February 27, said it stated that the Current Time website could be blocked in the coming hours inside Russia unless the site removed its factual reporting about soldiers killed or captured in Ukraine.

"We will not comply," he wrote on Twitter.

Roskomnadzor accused Current Time in a letter on February 27 of disseminating information in violation of the law, including "inaccurate socially significant information about Russian soldiers allegedly killed and captured on the territory of Ukraine."

The letter said that if the information is deleted, a notification must be sent to Russian media authorities for verification.

Current Time echoed Fly, saying it did not intend to delete the information. It said the site remained accessible Russia, and if it is blocked, Current Time materials will be available using virtual private network (VPN) services and mirror sites.

Fly said earlier that the threat and others were a "blatant attempt to whitewash the brutal facts about the human cost of Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine."

According to Fly, Russians are turning to RFE/RL's websites and broadcasts "more than ever during this critical moment to hear what Ukrainian officials and civilians are saying and to see images of the death and destruction caused by Vladimir Putin that their government is withholding from them."

He said RFE/RL "will not succumb to this pressure to deprive them of the truth."

Roskomnadzor on February 26 ordered media outlets to delete reports using the words "assault," "invasion," or "declaration of war" to describe Russia's incursion into neighboring Ukraine.

The agency said that it had launched an investigation against the independent newspaper Novaya gazeta, Ekho Moskvy, InoSMI, Mediazona, New Times, Dozhd, and other media outlets for their coverage of the war in Ukraine.

RFE/RL's Crimea.Realities was also listed.

Roskomnadzor said then that it was launching an "administrative probe" against the media outlets that could result in fines up to 5 million rubles ($60,000).

The agency said media could find "reliable information" only from "official Russian information outlets."

The Russian government has sought to tightly control information about the war in Ukraine and to prevent manifestations of anti-war sentiment.