Authorities do not yet have plans to block VPN services in Russia, the Kremlin said Tuesday, a day after the head of the Kremlin-aligned Safe Internet League floated the possibility of such a move.
Yekaterina Mizulina claimed Monday that the Russian government will “most likely” block VPNs by March 1, though she did not say where she had obtained that information.
Russian Senator Artyom Sheikin made a similar claim in October, saying that communications watchdog Roskomnadzor had ordered VPN services to be blocked by March 1, 2024.
“I can only say that, as of now, no decisions have been made about that,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday.
Downloads of VPNs, which help users access blocked websites, surged in Russia after authorities started blocking Western social media platforms and scores of Russian independent news outlets following the invasion of Ukraine.
Authorities last year launched a campaign to warn the public about what they say are the dangers of using VPN services.
Observers say the campaign is aimed at stifling free speech and limiting access to independent news sources.