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Putin threatens to block Twitter over allegations of fuelling incitement against his regime

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Russian president, Vladimir Putin is furious with social media giant, Twitter. The ex KGB operative, who has been the major personality in Russian’s political space since he came to power in 1999 has accused Twitter of inciting protests that could lead to the end of his 16 years in power.

Already, Twitter users in Russia are finding content loading much slower and the state’s communications regulator said the website could be blocked if Twitter refuses to remove more than 3,000 posts containing “illegal content”, adding that this move was aimed at “protecting Russians”.

It comes after demonstrations against Putin were organised on social media, over the persecution of the president’s political foe Alexei Navalny.

Now, Twitter users in Russia will find content loading much slower, and the website could eventually be blocked.

Although most Twitter users in Russia believe this was government’s way of expressing its ire over Twitter-led demonstrations against Putin over the persecution of Putin’s foe, Alexi Navalny, the government agency, however, denied this, saying the objective was to stamp out child pornography, drug abuse and suicide in the country.

Now, Twitter users in Russia will find content loading much slower, and the website could eventually be blocked.

They said: “The slowing down will be applied to 100% of mobile devices and on 50% of non-mobile devices.

“If (Twitter) continues to ignore the requirements of the law, the enforcement measures will be continued… (right up to blocking it).”

According to Interfax, the move will affect photo and video content but not text.

However, many activists believe the new measures are being brought in because of recent protests.

An internet freedom advocate with the Roskomsvoboda group, Sarkis Darbinyan, told Reuters, “Of course the main motive is the increase in street protest action.” 

“It’s 10 years since the Arab spring this year… they’ve understood the internet is a driving force. 

“Any desire to control the Russian internet is connected to the desire to control the information space.”

It comes as caged Kremlin critic, Navalny has overtaken Putin as Russia’s most talked-about politician on social media for the first time, according to new analysis.

The 44-year-old was said to have been mentioned on social media 1.3million times more than Putin after being detained at a Moscow airport on January 17, having recovered from a Novichok nerve agent attack.

Between the poisoned critic’s arrest and last Tuesday, he was mentioned almost 10.8 million times on social media.

The data was collated from blogs and social networks such as Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram, as well as TikTok.

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