Russia blocks chess site about Ukraine

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Moscow (AFP) – The popular site Chess.com has been blocked in Russia after publishing two articles critical of the situation in Ukraine, which authorities called “false information”.

The site, which has 50 million members worldwide, is now on a list of blocked sources compiled by Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor.

The attorney general’s office has requested that access to just two Chess.com pages critical of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine be restricted, state agencies and media reported.

But because Chess.com uses the HTTPS protocol, the entire site became unavailable, the media said.

Chess.com could not be opened in Russia on Sunday afternoon.

The articles would have condemned the offensive launched by Russia in Ukraine on February 24, according to Russian media.

Chess.com has already banned Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin, who has publicly supported the offense, from playing games on the site.

Karjakin, who played Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in 2016 for the world title, has also been suspended for six months by world chess governing body FIDE.

This month he called for Chess.com to be blocked, accusing it of “anti-Russian choices” and “insulting propaganda”.

Karjakin took to the Telegram messaging service to welcome the Russian government’s decision against Chess.com.

“Is this really a big loss for Russian-speaking users? he asked, adding, “Not in my opinion.”

“Once again we are seeing a situation where Western platforms are losing their Russian audiences because of their own Russia phobia.”

Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have already been blocked in Russia, as have dozens of media websites in Ukraine.

Since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine, authorities have stepped up measures to silence critics of the military operation in Russia’s pro-Western neighbor.

New legislation imposes prison sentences of up to 15 years for disseminating information about the Russian military deemed false by the government.

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