Moscow plans to block 'extremist' propaganda amid 'global fight' on IS

03/08/2015 12:41
RFE/RL
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DUSHANBE, August 3, 2015, Asia-Plus – Radio Liberty reports that Moscow is planning to step up measures to block “extremist propaganda” on the Internet as part of its fight against Islamic State (IS) recruitment and radicalization.

According to Igor Barinov, the head of Russia's new Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, Russian intelligence and law enforcement services are developing a “system to quickly evaluate sites and the media for extremist and terrorist propaganda,” RFE/RL says.

“On the websites there is open propaganda about so-called pure Islam, the ideas of IS, which have no relationship at all with religion,” Barinov -- a State Duma deputy and retired Federal Security Service (FSB) colonel who served in Chechnya -- told Russia's Kommersant newspaper on July 30.

Russia's Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) would then “take measures to block Internet sites and subsequently remove harmful content,” Barinov said.

The extent to which Russia intends to crack down on IS Internet propaganda is unclear.  Russia has already moved to block some IS social media accounts and sites, though many more have since emerged.

But beyond this, Barinov's remarks are the latest in a series of admissions or claims by various Russian officials that the IS problem is growing.

Barinov said that “around 2,000” Russian nationals had “already travelled to Syria, Iraq, IS.”

A similar figure of 1,700 Russians was previously quoted by the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, who said in February that the number of Russians in IS-controlled territory had "practically doubled" over the past year.

The exact number of Russian nationals fighting alongside Islamic State is not known.

"No one in the world can deal with this completely," Barinov said in response to a question from Kommersant about how to tackle IS recruitment.

FSB chief Bortnikov adopted similar rhetoric while commenting on IS at an international conference of intelligence and security chiefs in Yaroslavl on July 29.

Bortnikov, who said in February that intelligence sharing between the United States and Russia on IS was “quite possible,” called again for international cooperation to undermine IS, including the militant group's recruitment and propaganda networks on the Internet.

The FSB chief urged his “foreign colleagues” to actively carry out operational work to "discredit international terrorist organizations."

Bortnikov's key message to his international audience was about the threat of IS blowback, however.  The FSB chief claimed that the militant group was training individuals who were then using “illegal migration” to spread and create secret cells in various regions. 

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