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Russia presses case for greater control over its internet

February 27, 2019

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin spokesman said on Wednesday that reports that the U.S. military carried out a cyberattack in Russia ahead of the U.S. midterm elections proves that the country needs to create its own, self-controlled segment of the internet.

Russia’s parliament this month passed the first reading of a bill that proposes all internet traffic be routed through servers in Russia. Opponents fear the measure would lead to widespread censorship.

Dmitry Peskov was reacting on Wednesday to a recent report in The Washington Post that quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the U.S. military remotely blocked internet access to a Russian “troll farm” ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Several employees of the troll farm - a group that tries to sow discord through the internet, often with a political motive - have been indicted in the United States. Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged 13 individuals, most of whom are the troll farm’s employees, with a conspiracy to spread disinformation on social media and mobilize supporters of Donald Trump during his successful presidential bid.

St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has close ties to President Vladimir Putin, was indicted by the U.S. last year on charges that he was funding the Internet Research Agency, alleged to be a troll farm. Prigozhin has denied the accusations.

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