Websites Blocked in Russia Since Ukraine Invasion

We are tracking the websites officially blocked in Russia by the authorities since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that relate to the conflict. These include Ukraine news sites, financial trading platforms and international sites, such as BBC News and Facebook.
Simon Migliano

First published Mar 2, 2022. Last updated to include latest blocked sites Russia relating to Ukraine invasion, including Google News, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, BBC News and Radio Free Liberty sites, and Amnesty International.

  • We analyzed over 8,000 entries to Russia’s central registry of blocked websites and found 536 domains relating to the Ukraine invasion have been banned since Feb 24.
  • Notable bans: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google News, BBC News, Deutsche Welle, Ukrayinska Pravda, Meduza.io, Interfax-Ukraine, Radio Free Liberty sites, Voice of America, Bellingcat and Amnesty International.
  • News sites: 294 domains now blocked, mainly Ukrainian news services but growing numbers of independent Russian and foreign services with local language sites.
  • Financial sites: 133 foreign exchange and cryptocurrency platforms blocked since the devaluation of the rouble.

Internet Censorship in Russia

Russia censors internet access within its borders by means of several laws and mechanisms. One of the most significant is its centralized single register of banned URLs, domains and IP addresses. This denylist has been in place since 2012 and is administered by the telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor. The list grows daily with entries from a number of other government agencies.

The entries on this register of banned sites are accessible via the online database reestr.rublacklist.net.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24, there have been over 8,000 additions to Russia’s internet denylist. Many of these domains were blocked because they hosted adult material or offered online gambling. However our analysis of blocked domains revealed that there were significant numbers of Ukrainian news sites banned in Russia since then, under order of the Office of the Prosecutor General.

It’s clear that the Kremlin wishes to control the narrative of its invasion and prevent the Russian people from accessing news reports from Ukrainian sources.

The Russian government is also blocking Russian news sites whose editorial stance is anti-war.

On March 2, the authorities blocked popular Moscow-based online retail marketplace TIU.ru that had replaced its homepage with anti-war content.

A screenshot of the Google cached version of the TIU.ru homepage before it was blocked

A screenshot of the Google cached version of the TIU.ru homepage before it was blocked.

Similarly, Ukrainian streaming websites such as Takflix with prominent anti-war content are also being blocked.

The following day the Office of the Prosecutor General also began targeting major western European news sites, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle. In the early hours of Friday morning, March 4, it also blocked Meduza, the Russian- and English-language news site based in Latvia.

The Voice of America domain golosameriki.com and an increasing number of the US-funded Radio Free Liberty network of local-language sites, including svoboda.org and idelreal.org are also now blocked in Russia.

Google News was blocked on March 24, according to Reuters, who cited Interfax and confirmed with Google that some Russian users were suffering connection issues. At the time of publication, there had been no official announcement by Roskomnadzor.[1]

Independent Russian news sites are also increasingly blocked, even some of those who have publicly stated that they will abide by new laws preventing reporting on military matters, purportedly to prevent “fake news”.

Since the value of the rouble began to plummet as a result of the imposition of strict economic sanctions, Russian authorities have also begun to block foreign exchange and cryptocurrency platforms, albeit in scattershot fashion.

Amnesty International was the first international human rights organization to have its local language website blocked late on March 10. Roskomnadzor also blocked international investigative journalism website Bellingcat, which focuses on uncovering evidence of human rights abuses, on March 15.

Roskomnadzor also finally confirmed that Facebook and Twitter were officially blocked in Russia late on March 4 after throttling access to social media platforms over the course of the week. Users’ internet speeds when accessing these sites from Russian IP addresses was so slow as to render them unusable even if they were not officially banned at the time.

Instagram was initially banned on March 11, according to a Roskomnadzor announcement that cited Meta’s decision to allow calls for death to Russian troops on its platforms. The Russian authorities delayed actually blocking Instagram for 48 hours however to allow users “to transfer their photo and video materials to other social networks and notify their contacts and subscribers”.

As a result Russians are turning in increasing numbers to VPN services, despite official restrictions on their use in Russia. Daily demand for VPNs has now exceeded levels 2,000% higher than prior to the invasion.

VPN access remains a sensitive issue in Russia. Use of the software is permitted but accessing blocked content is illegal. With 15 VPN services currently officially banned for not complying with Russian government demands, it can be difficult to find a trustworthy VPN that still works in Russia.

The Russian government confirmed on March 15 that Roskomnadzor had been making efforts to block VPN traffic and would continue to do so. [2]

We will continue to monitor the sites being blocked in Russia that relate to the invasion of Ukraine and update this page on a regular basis.

See the full list of blocked domains.

Blocked Domains

Blocked Domains by Type

The following table provides a summary by content type of the domains added to Russia’s internet denylist since Feb 24 that relate to the Ukraine invasion.

Blocked Domains by Locale

The following table provides a summary by locale of the domains added to Russia’s internet denylist since Feb 24 that relate to the Ukraine invasion.

Top 30 Blocked Domains

The following table shows the 30 biggest domains by internet traffic added to Russia’s internet denylist since Feb 24 that relate to the Ukraine invasion, along with their locale and type.

See the full list of blocked domains.

Methodology

We downloaded all entries on reestr.rublacklist.net from February 24 to March 2 and filtered for domains relevant to the invasion of Ukraine and the economic consequences of that. We excluded all adult content, gambling sites, drug-related content that is routinely blocked in Russia.

The relevant content was then manually reviewed and categorized by site type. Locale was derived from the top-level domain where possible, otherwise it was based on the physical location of the operator of the domain.

See the full list of blocked domains.

The authors of all our investigations abide by the journalists’ code of conduct.

References

[1] https://www.reuters.com/technology/russian-communications-regulator-has-blocked-google-news-interfax-2022-03-23/

[2] https://interfax.com/newsroom/top-stories/76778/