Russia Moves To Censor Prigozhin and Concord Group On Social Media

Access to the VKontakte social network page belonging to the Concord Group, owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, has been blocked by Russian regulators. 

The move by Roskomnadzor, the federal agency responsible for media control and censorship, comes after Prigozhin led a brief rebellion against the Russian leadership over the weekend.

A notice displayed on the page states: “This material was blocked at the request of Roskomnadzor on the basis of the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation dated June 24, 2023 No. 27-31-2023/Treb431-23.”

Following the events, Prigozhin’s press service has not provided any updates on its Telegram account since Saturday, when the mercenary boss accepted a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Blocking access on VKontakte is only the latest of the moves to censor now-exiled Prigozhin. As the events were escalating over the weekend, Russian authorities were quick to take measures to control the flow of information.

The Washington Post reports that on Friday night, major news sources and information related to the Wagner group were blocked by internet service providers, including the news aggregator Google News, according to monitoring organization NetBlocks.

Telegram, a popular messaging and social networking platform in Russia, experienced significant outages in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and along the route from Rostov-on-Don to the capital, which was under Wagner’s control. And then on Saturday, the platform was rife with false and conflicting information about the short-lived rebellion from accounts claiming to be controlled by the Wagner Group. One denied that a deal had been reached, and another accused Prigozhin of betraying the country by retreating.

Tass, the state-controlled news agency, also reported that searches for Prigozhin on Yandex, the country’s version of the Google search engine, returned notices of hidden results in accordance with federal law. Content related to Prigozhin was also blocked on VKontakte, including a group with nearly half a million subscribers that Wagner had used for recruitment purposes.

These actions highlight Russia’s increased ability to control information access since the start of their invasion of Ukraine. Internet restrictions have been imposed on international digital services, including Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. Roskomnadzor has also continued to tighten its control over local companies like Yandex.

Information for this story was found via UPI, The Washington Post, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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