Staunton, August 22 – Russians have become ever more adept at getting around the blocking of Internet sites that the Kremlin does not want them to see, most often by using VPN technology. But now in a breakthrough, Norway’s Barents Observer has found a way to get its Russian and English-language stories to Russians who don’t have VPN.
In February, Moscow blocked the site after it published an article on the Saami people the Kremlin didn’t like. Now, Thomas Nilsen, the chief editor of the portal, says, they have found “a new path into Russia,” one that will allow Russians to read its reports even if they don’t have VPN (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/grazhdanskoe-obshchestvo-i-smi/2019/08/barents-observer-obhodit-blokirovku-i-vozvrashchaetsya-k).
“We are very glad that people in Russia will again be able to freely read our articles about events in the North,” Nilsen continues. “It is extremely important that independent media have the chance to cover the situation in this large and important region.” He adds that blocking sites is “a repressive measure” that Barents Observer is committed to fighting.
When the portal published an article Moscow didn’t like and Moscow demanded that it take the article down within 24 hours, Barents Observer refused. The Russian government then blocked the site, prompting the publication to go to court to appeal that decision. But on July 12, it lost its case in a Moscow city court.
The publication’s decision to make use of new technology to break through what is becoming a new electronic iron curtain is the Barents Observer’s response. It is likely, even certain, that the Russian authorities will now take steps to try to block it once again, the latest in the contest between offense and defense in this area.