Google confirmed its service had been restricted from March 23rd, which means the country’s citizens are now unable to access it. Google’s statement said, “We’ve confirmed that some people are having difficulty accessing the Google News app and website in Russia and that this is not due to any technical issues on our end. We’ve worked hard to keep information services like News accessible to people in Russia for as long as possible.”
Russia’s government continues to impose restrictions on publicly available information, with the most recent action denying residents access to Google News (via Reuters). Russia’s communications authority has accused Google News of distributing fake information on the country’s military activities in Ukraine.
Russia has continued limiting its citizen’s access to free information since the conflict began a month ago. Recently, the country has banned access to Facebook and Instagram with a Moscow court ruling that Meta is guilty of “extremist activity.” Oddly, the company didn’t restrict Meta’s messaging service WhatsApp in the same move. Many in Russia are reportedly rushing to download Wikipedia ahead of an expected ban by Putin’s government in the coming weeks. Google News isn’t the first service to be restricted by Russia during this conflict, and it’s unlikely to be the last as the invasion of Ukraine continues into its second month.
According to news agency Interfax, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor provided a statement that says, “The American online news resource in question provided access to numerous publications and materials containing inauthentic and publicly important information about the course of the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine.”