Russian social network not to close opposition accounts

December 9th, 2011 - 7:39 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Dec 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia’s most popular social network was asked by the domestic security agency to deactivate accounts of groups that contained posts calling for street protests, but the company has rejected the request, a spokesman said.

“We received a request from the FSB to stop the activity of Vkontakte groups calling for riots and a revolution,” wrote Vladislav Tsyplukhin, spokesman for social network VKontakte.

“We explained in response that we have been following those groups and cannot block them as a whole just because some individual users have called for violence,” he wrote.

Accounts of specific users who have explicitly called for public disorder, however, are being blocked by the company, he said.

The spokesman said there has not been any excessive “pressure, threats or rudeness” from the Federal Security Service (FSB) in its requests.

The FSB has declined to comment.

Anti-corruption website RosPil published a report Thursday, where Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov was quoted as saying that the FSB had asked him to shut down “opposition” accounts.

The report, which came amid ongoing protests against the results of the Dec 4 parliamentary polls, went viral over Russian internet blogs and online media.

“Over the past few days, the FSB has been asking us to block opposition groups, including yours,” Durov was quoted as informing the administrator of the RosPil website.

The website is operated by anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

“We don’t do this on principle. I don’t know how it can affect us, but we are sticking to our position,” Durov wrote in his message to the administrator.

“Vkontakte is a 100-percent apolitical company. We support neither the authorities nor the opposition, and no particular political party,” he said.

Rallies have already taken place in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where several thousands of people took part.

Authorities have declared the elections fair and democratic.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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