Russia has blocked more news services by far than any other type of domain. Almost 75% domains blocked since February 24 linked to the invasion of Ukraine are those of information sites.
A significant portion of these blocks have been mirror domains with generic or semi-generic names, such as
This is the result of the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between Russian censors and the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RL/RFE) group of websites, whose top domains have been blocked in the first weeks after the invasion.
These mirror domains are quickly created and distributed on social media to provide continued access to RL/RFE websites such as
sibreal.org serving Ukraine, Russia and the Caucasus region. As soon as Roskomnadzor can block these alternative versions, new mirror domains appear to replace them, with the blocked ones usually going offline.
While this phenomenon has greatly inflated the number of information domains, 661 other news areas have been blocked. Russia has taken an extreme scorched-earth approach to censoring information about the war on the internet, blocking everything from small local blogs to major international broadcasters.
Russia has gone after public broadcasters in particular, blocking 13 such news services in eight countries:
- bbc.com (UK)
- npr.org (US)
- dw.com (Germany)
- rfi.fr (France)
- polskieradio.pl (Poland)
- golosameriki.com (USA)
- hromadske.ua (Ukraine)
- rus.lsm.lv (Latvia)
- rus.err.ee (Estonia)
- golos.com.ua (Ukraine)
- bbcrussian.com (UK)
- uatv.ua (Ukraine)
- golos-ameriki.ru (USA)
Roskomnadzor also heavily censored local news from Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Russia. Major banned websites include
poltava.towhich has over 600,000 monthly visitors, although the majority of its content covers mundane local issues in the central Ukrainian city of Poltava, such as traffic and local council activities.
Other major banned websites include local news website Melitopol
ria-m.tvwhich has around 1.2 million monthly visitors, whose coverage of the war is far more prominent and provocative.
Russian authorities have also cracked down on Russian news sites, with independent media like
Meduza.io hardest hit. In total, we discovered that 33 independent Russian news sites had been blocked since February.
Note that we’ve categorized freelance news websites as primarily journalist-focused, as opposed to more commercial, advertising-focused news websites that typically derive much of their content from third-party sources.
Outside of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States, the countries with the most news sites blocked by the Kremlin are:
- Belarus (19 domains)
- Azerbaijan (11)
- Moldova (10)
Other notable trends include the censorship of 11 sports domains and two chess websites for hosting content critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.