• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023


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Russian journalists are calling on Big Tech companies to help stop the Kremlin from blocking YouTube and Telegram. Read their message to Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Elon Musk.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and independent Russian journalists are calling on Big Tech to help put an end to Russia’s informational shutdown.

With Russia’s next presidential election approaching in 2024, RSF joins Russian independent journalists and media in calling on Big Tech companies to establish a channel of communication with them in order to prevent a complete blockade of Russia’s information space. The initiative is supported by Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Totalitarian regimes destroy independent media to establish control over society through propaganda. This is no longer just censorship of individual publications and messengers; it is something new, global. Dangerous attempts are being made to destroy the very means of delivering content to citizens. Now, in Russia, the entire “infrastructure” of content delivery is under threat of destruction, particularly YouTube and Wikipedia. Engineers can help Russia’s independent media and society today. They can find and implement reliable methods and algorithms for preserving YouTube, Wikipedia, and VPNs. Freedom of speech today is dependent upon technology. We need a joint initiative: ‘Engineers against dictatorship.’

Dmitry Muratov


Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s CEO

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s CEO

Elon Musk, Twitter’s CEO

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO

Ryan Roslansky, Linkedin’s CEO

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO

Dear tech leaders, 

We, representatives of Russia’s liberal independent media and the international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), are writing to bring to your attention the alarming possibility of the total shutdown of Russian free online information space very soon, and to invite you to establish a channel with us to build solutions to prevent Russia from disconnecting from the rest of the world.

The Russian authorities are preparing for Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2024. As campaign season approaches, the authorities will become increasingly intolerant of any discourse that contradicts the Kremlin’s official narrative. We have strong suspicions that YouTube and Telegram could be totally blocked in Russia as soon as this autumn, making more than 140 million people hostages of the state’s propaganda apparatus. 

This will be the final step of a process that began a long time ago and has only accelerated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since February 2022, most major online platforms have been banned from the Russian Internet. The independent press has also been outlawed, and most independent journalists have been forced into exile.

Only two major platforms have partially survived this purge. Telegram and YouTube are the only spaces left where Russian journalists can try to inform their fellow citizens about the reality of the war Vladimir Putin is waging in their name.

We do not want to live in a new Cold War era. There is an urgent need to reconnect Russian citizens with pluralistic information, as well as with the rest of the world. This is the Internet’s most important function, and the major services you are in charge of have become the main actors of this mission. Social networks, search engines, and application catalogs are the gateways to an open informational world. It is essential to reinstate them; otherwise, Russian citizens will find themselves locked in the dark alone with their president.

Your companies shaped the modern Internet and you know that there are technical solutions that could allow your services to return to the Russian online space. Domain fronting, Tor websites, and mirroring are among the most effective, while new technologies such as artificial intelligence should be powerful tools too. 

We urge Big Tech companies to join us in our efforts to prevent the closure of the world’s leading social platforms in Russia and to stand up for the civil rights of people around the world. What we need now is to start a dialogue between representatives of these platforms and ourselves so that we can work together to build solutions that will reconnect Russian citizens with their independent press in exile.

Thank you for your attention, and we hope you will join us in our efforts to prevent the total closure of Russia’s online informational space.

Signed by:

  • Ivan Kolpakov, editor-in-chief of Meduza
  • Elizaveta Osetinskaya, founder of The Bell 
  • Tikhon Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of TV Rain
  • Pavel Kanygin, editor-in-chief of Prodolzhenie Sleduet Media
  • Alexander Plushev, editor-in-chief of Plushev Channel 
  • Sergei Smirnov, editor-in-chief of Mediazona
  • Dmitry Kolezev, editor-in-chief of Republic
  • Galina Arapova, CEO of Mass Media Defence Center
  • Denis Kamalyagin, editor-in-chief of Pskovskaya Gubernia
  • Kirill Rogov, founder of Re:Russia project
  • Victor Muchnik, editor-in-chief of Beyond Moscow and The Witnesses of February 24th Project 
  • Ivan Rublev, editor-in-chief of It’s My City
  • Ivan Pavlov, founder of The First Department Initiative
  • Lola Tagaeva, editor-in-chief of Verstka
  • Ilya Ber, editor-in-chief of Provereno.Media
  • Mikhail Klimarev, Executive Director of Internet Protection Society 
  • Alexander Cherkasov, board member of Memorial
  • Irina Malkova, editor-in-chief of The Bell 
  • Roman Anin, editor-in-chief of iStories Media
  • Alesya Marokhovskaya, editor of iStories Media
  • Ruslan Shaveddinov, editor of Popular Politics Channel
  • Sergei Ukhov, editor-in-chief of Perm 36,6
  • Veronica Kutsyllo, editor-in-chief of Poligon Media and Khodorkovsy live
  • Ivan Zhilin, editor-in-chief of Kedr Media
  • Iullia Schastlivtseva, founder of Kedr Media
  • Taisia Bekbulatova, editor-in-chief of Holod Media 
  • Mikhail Danilovich, co-founder of Novaya Vkladka
  • Ekaterina Martynova, editor of Doxa
  • Sergey Parkhomenko, coordinator of Redkolleigia project 
  • Olga Romanova, founder of My Russian Rights 
  • Svetlana Anokhina, editor-in-chief of Daptar.ru
  • Ilia Shumanov, editor-in-chief of Transparency International Russia
  • Maksim Kurnikov, editor-in-chief of Echo
  • Fedor Krasheninnikov, political analyst, founder of FedorKrasheninnikov channel
  • Oleg Grigorenko, editor-in-chief of 7×7 Horizontal Russia 
  • Sergey Lukashevskiy, executive director of Sakharov Center, editor-in-chief of Radio Sakharov
  • Tatiana Ivanova, editor-in-chief of Paperpaper.ru
  • Egor Skovoroda, executive editor of Mediazona
  • Mikhail Shubin, Editor-in-chief, OVD-Info

This list is being updated. If you’re in a leadership position at an NGO or independent media outlet, you can add your name by writing to us at: [email protected]. Tell us your name and your workplace, along with a way for us to verify your identity. We’ll be collecting signatures until 6:00 p.m. CET, June 9.