The photo and video-sharing app Instagram has been blocked in Russia, reportedly for promoting violence against Russian residents.
The Instagram ban is the latest in a series of setbacks for many struggling Russian entrepreneurs as part of Moscow’s war.
The currency fell as the economy collapsed. Meanwhile, Russia was cut off from global payment systems. Russia’s ban from Instagram and other digital services comes as a shock to people who rely on it. Even as tough sanctions take time to take effect.
The Moscow Times quoted Golov, 42, as saying, “There isn’t really any alternative to Instagram.”
Over the last eight years, woodworker Roman Golov has built his business from the ground up.
The father of two carefully established his business in his backyard in Ivanovo. Which is an industrial city 250 kilometers east of Moscow. Carving everything from rocking horses to Orthodox icons, occasionally falling back on minor security positions to pay his expenses.
He quickly grew a social media following of over 10,000 people. Where he was soon completing orders from all around Russia. Along with several other countries as well.
But it all came crumbling down around 12 a.m. Moscow time on Sunday.
“There is no other substitute to this app”
“All of the other platforms either demand money or aren’t very good,” he noted, adding that he has attempted and failed to convert his firm to Telegram. A popular encrypted communication service in Russia.
The Instagram ban in Russia was long overdue.
The Kremlin has traditionally had tense relations with tech powerhouses located in the United States. Looking at them with suspicion as tools of an unusually blunt Washington.
Authorities shut down the professional networking site LinkedIn in 2016, accusing it of breaking data retention laws.
Access to Twitter, which is popular among opposition-minded Russians. It was intentionally slowed down by the country’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, in March 2021. Amid huge rallies against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. However, the crackdown on Russia’s once-largely free internet escalated at an alarming rate.
The nation blocked Facebook, Instagram’s Meta counterpart on March 4, blaming the website’s claimed “discrimination” against Russian state media.
After the parent company, Meta issued a rule change allowing calls for the death of Russians. In the context of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, Roskomnadzor hit the group even harder. Thereby, banning Instagram entirely.
The censorship body said in its announcement of the ban that “messages uploaded on Instagram promote and encourage violent actions against Russians.”
The country’s prosecutor general is also attempting to label Meta as an “extreme” organization. Putting the company on par with terrorist organizations. Along with posing a danger to WhatsApp, another popular chat service in Russia.
Although, Facebook had been mostly a niche site. Popular primarily among urban, liberal Russians, Instagram was a different matter.
However, Instagram is deeply integrated with Russian online life. Having over 60 million users in the nation, according to market research firm Statista, around 40% of the Russian population.