Russia blocks chess website about Ukraine

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Moscow (AFP) – Popular website Chess.com has been banned in Russia after it published two articles critical of the situation in Ukraine, which the authorities branded “misinformation”.

The site, which has 50 million members worldwide, is now on a list of blocked sources drawn up by Russia’s telecom regulator Roskomnadzor.

The Prosecutor General’s Office called for restricting access to just two pages of Chess.com critical of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine, domestic authorities and media reported.

However, since Chess.com uses the HTTPS protocol, the entire website is no longer available, according to the media.

Chess.com failed to open in Russia on Sunday afternoon.

According to Russian media reports, the articles allegedly condemned Russia’s February 24 offensive in Ukraine.

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

Karjakin, who played against Norwegian Magnus Carlsen for the world title in 2016, was also banned for six months by the world chess association FIDE.

This month he called for Chess.com to be suspended, accusing it of “anti-Russian decisions” and “offensive propaganda”.

Karjakin used Telegram to praise the Russian government’s move against Chess.com.

“Is it really a big loss for Russian-speaking users?” he asked, adding, “I don’t think so.”

“Once again we are witnessing a situation where Western platforms are losing their Russian audiences due to their own Russiaphobia.”

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

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

New laws impose prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading information about the Russian military that the government deems false.

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