Ukraine crisis: Kremlin blocking Russians' access to Twitter amid protests, criticism: researcher

Russian authorities have tried to suppress antiwar sentiment

The Kremlin is reportedly blocking Russians' access to Twitter as people protest and voice criticism over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian protesters took to the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities Friday to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to take control of Ukraine's democratic government as authorities tried to suppress antiwar sentiment.

"Russia blocked Twitter in much of its territory & restricted access to Facebook threatening to do the same w latter," Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab associate Eto Buziashvili said in a Saturday tweet. "The Kremlin is trying to cut off Russians from learning abt the war crimes Putin’s regime commits in Ukraine fearing that Russians will massively take to streets."

She continued: "The power of Russian people is the worst nightmare for Putin. That is why the Kremlin is trying its best to suppress traditional and social media. The Kremlin, you might succeed in short-term, but Russian people will learn about your war crimes and come for you."


BBC reporter Leonid Ragozin said Twitter and Facebook's services had been slowed in Russia in a Saturday tweet.

"Twitter and Facebook are very slow in Moscow while the media watchdog is threatening independent outlets with closure for objective reporting of Putin's war on Ukraine. The Kremlin doesn't want Russians to know what their army is doing to their friends and relatives," he said.

Ukrainian servicemen sit atop armored personnel carriers driving on a road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) (AP Photo/Denis Kaminev))

"We’re aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our service safe and accessible. Twitter has not restricted access or registration to our service," Twitter said in a statement.

It continued: "We believe people should have free and open access to the Internet, which is particularly important during times of crisis."


A spokesperson told FOX Business that it Twitter provided safety and security resources in English, Russian and Ukrainian. It is also "proactively reviewing Tweets to detect platform manipulation (or other inauthentic behavior)"; actively monitoring high-profile accounts; pausing tweet recommendations in Ukraine and Russia; and pausing ads in Russia and Ukraine, among other actions.

Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine resumed on Saturday evening, with people taking to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg for the third straight day despite mass arrests. OVD-Info rights group reported that at least 325 people were detained in 26 Russian cities on Saturday in antiwar protests, nearly half of them in Moscow. (AP Photo/Denis Kaminev)

Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.  (AP Photo/Denis Kaminev)

If the company has "clear evidence of state-affiliated information operations," it will "remove accounts engaging in this behavior," a spokesperson told FOX Business. 

Additionally, the platform labels state-affiliated accounts belonging to the Russian Federation "to provide important context about national affiliation, and to inform people who encounter these accounts about who they represent, and what they’re seeing," the spokesperson said. 


The Associated Press contributed to this report.