Four media outlets blocked in Russia for their coverage of Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine have filed lawsuits against media regulator Roskomnadzor and the Prosecutor-General’s Office.

The Setevyye Svobody (Network Freedoms) Telegram channel said on April 5 that editors for Mediazona, Republic, Taig.Info, and Lentachel had filed lawsuits against decisions to block their sites with the Tver district court in Moscow, adding that lawyer Leonid Solovyov will represent the media outlets in the court.

After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Roskomnadzor ordered all media outlets to only use data and information provided by Russia’s official sources when covering the war. It also directed media outlets to describe events in Ukraine as a “special military operation” and not a war or an invasion.

The logo of Roskomnadzor
The logo of Roskomnadzor

The Prosecutor-General’s Office then demanded that the websites of many outlets, including those of Mediazona, Republic, Taiga.Info, and Lentachel, be blocked, saying they distributed “false information about the Russian Army” in their reports about the developments in Ukraine.

Setevyye Svobody quoted a statement from the editor of Taiga.Info saying that the outlet considers the decision to block its website illegal.

The Tver district court’s website says a preliminary session on the lawsuit filed by Taiga.Info will be held on April 21.

Setevyye Svobody also said it is preparing lawsuits on behalf of other websites, including the DOXA student newspaper and the Ateo online group in the VKontakte social network, which had been blocked at Roskomnadzor’s request.

On March 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law that calls for sentences of up to 15 years in prison for people who “deliberately distribute false news” about the Russian Army.

Several Russian media outlets have chosen to suspend operations rather than face heavy restrictions on what they can report. The Kremlin has also blocked multiple foreign news outlets