Russian regulator threatens to block BBC website over activist interview

The Russian telecommunications authority has threatened to block the BBC’s regionial news site after the broadcaster ignored a request to remove an interview with artist and activist Artem Loskutov, according to a report by tabloid newspaper Izvestia.

The regulator claims it can block the whole BBC website

The Russian regulatory authority, known as the Roskomnadzor, said it may block the BBC due to its refusal to take down “provocative” interviews with Loskutov encouraging readers to participate in a march in supporting an independent Siberia.

The Roskomnadzor said activist Artem Loskutov’s interview, which was published 31 July, should be removed because it “appeals to riots, extremist activities or participation in mass public activities conducted in violation of the legal order”.

The warning was allegedly issued on 3 of August by the regulator which was keen to stamp out any separation sentiment.

A source within the regulator told Izvestia: “We can fully block the BBC Russian service website on the territory of our country.”

“We have to do it, because the prosecutor general’s office has assigned Roskomnadzor to block the access to the sites and resources publishing information of that kind.”

The move comes during a period of high tension between the UK and Russia exacerbated by the Ukrainian conflict and the international sanctions placed upon Russia as a result.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We have no plans to remove this interview from our website. Mr Loskutov is an artist and activist known for organising events which are, at first sight, parodies of political activity, but which also bring out serious issues about life in Russia. Mr Loskutov’s views represent his personal position.

"The BBC aims to present all sides of a story in an impartial, unbiased way, and we have also requested an interview with a Russian government official to explain their position on the planned march. Our editorial decisions are guided by the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and the story in question is in full compliance with the requirements set out by this document.”

This comes after a Russian soldier was definitively located inside over the Ukrainian border after posting Instagram selfies in the disputed territory.

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