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Thousands protest over Russia’s internet ‘isolation’

Thousands protest over Russia’s internet ‘isolation’

Moscow — Thousands of people rallied against Russia’s increasingly restrictive internet policies which some say will eventually lead to total censorship and isolate the country from the world.

The mass rally in Moscow and smaller events in other cities across the country was called after the Russian lower house of parliament backed a bill to stop Russian internet traffic from being routed on foreign servers, in a bid to boost cybersecurity.

The move was labelled by critics as the latest attempt to control online content under President Vladimir Putin, with some fearing the country is on track to completely isolate its network, as in North Korea.

Activists counting people said more than 15,000 people turned up to listen to internet and media rights activists as well as music performers who have complained of government pressure in recent months.

“The government is battling freedom, including freedom on the internet, I can tell you this as somebody who spent a month in jail for a tweet,” one of the rally speakers Sergei Boiko said.

Police detained several people without explanation. An AFP correspondent saw a man being dragged away by arms and legs near the entrance to the rally.

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