Russian authorities have this week announced plans to further regulate online media by requiring bloggers to register their real name and contact details with the government.
Under the new laws bloggers with over 3,000 daily readers are required to hand over official information to the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor. So far around 600 bloggers have registered already, with many more expected to follow.
The move to put further legislation on online voices has been seen as an attack on free speech by many anti-Putin critics who fear that the new powers may be used to shut down blogs and websites that upset Russian authorities and may even lead to arrests and legal persecution. The government however claims these new laws exist only to fight ‘extremism’ and inaccurate or defamatory information online, an excuse similar to previous justifications used for the increasing of media control.
The number of bloggers required to register has been predicted to be several thousand. Those who fail or refuse to register face having accounts shut down and websites blocked.
Despite what the government says many political bloggers have claimed that the new laws are intended specifically to target dissident voices. Eduard Limonov and Boris Akunin, two bloggers known for their anti-Putin stance, told the press they were sent an official demand to register with the government, leading them to believe that blogs like theirs are being targeted by these new laws.