New Russian internet restrictions decried as online 'iron curtain'

Thousands of Russians march in protest against new 'internet iron curtain'

The second reading is planned this month and, if passed, the bill will need to be signed by the Upper House of the Parliament and then by President Vladimir Putin.

The main rally took place on Moscow's Prospekt Sakharova street, according to Reuters, where people chanted slogans demanding freedom online.

"I attend this rally to show our Government that I am not ready to renounce [the] internet, anonymity and the right to express my opinion", one protester said.

"The government is battling freedom, including freedom on the internet, I can tell you this as somebody who spent a month in jail for a tweet", one of the rally speakers Sergei Boiko, an internet freedom activist from Siberia, said. "In our day, light is the internet", said protester Viktor Tinovitsky, a 61-year-old engineer. An AFP correspondent saw a man being dragged away by arms and legs near the entrance to the rally.

And past year, campaigners took to the streets to protest the media watchdog's attempt to shut down the encrypted messaging service, Telegram.

The Russian government says its "digital sovereignty bill", which requires all internet traffic in Russia to be directed through state-controlled routing points, would reduce Russia's dependence on the United States.

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At least 28 people were detained in relation to the event organized by Russia's Libertarian Party, according to OVD-Info, a web portal that tracks political repression in the country.

Russian Federation has in recent years attempted to curb internet freedoms by blocking access to certain websites and messaging services such as Telegram.

The goal of the bill is "total censorship", it said.

Nikolai Lyaskin, an aide to opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, called the bill yet another step by the authorities to "tighten the screws" on Internet freedom, and urged the Russians to rally against "this madness".

Russian lawmakers also mulled to ban usage of VPNs which are popular for accessing websites on Russia's blacklist.

Clampdown: The new bill is part of wider plans by Russian Federation to have more oversight of what happens online.

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