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Russian Warfare on Press Freedom Continues with VK’s Blocking of VOA

The VOA Russian service website.
The VOA Russian service website.

Voice of America was notified on March 10, 2022, that its page on the social media platform VKontakte, the most popular social media network in Russia, has been blocked.

VKontakte said it was acting on order of the Russia’s General Prosecutor's Office who determined that VOA “has posted deliberately false socially significant information.” In particular, VK said VOA published “information material about the alleged Russian attack on the territory of Ukraine.”

The blocking of VOA’s VK page was preceded by Russian efforts to block Voice of America’s website in Russian, as well as other news websites and social media platforms that refused to submit to Moscow’s censorship orders. This is another indication of the country’s efforts to muzzle the free press and keep their own citizens in the dark about the war in Ukraine.

Despite these attempts, the Russian audience has turned to VOA’s website and social media accounts in record numbers. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine video views to VOA Russian have increased 244%, while audience engagement actions in social media are up 247%.

VOA continues to promote and support tools that allow the audience to bypass Russian blocking efforts and remains available on multiple platforms, including its website, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms, as well as through satellite TV distribution of the Current Time Channel, a joint production with RFE/RL.

“In spite of the Russian government’s attempts to criminalize fact-based journalism and block access to VOA’s content on Russian social media platforms, the Voice of America remains resolute in its approach to support the free flow of news and information not only in Russian but in every language we broadcast around the world,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lόpez. “We will continue to provide our Russian audience the necessary tools to access timely, accurate and truthful information.”