A New Wave of Russian Dissident Sites Shutting Down… Again?

The independent information and analysis site regarding religion “Portal-credo.ru,” well known for its articles in defense of believers and also for criticism of several representatives of the Moscow patriarchate, has again been blocked for unknown reasons, according to reports from the press service of the Slavic Legal Center.

According to an assistant of the chief editor of the portal, Vladimir Oivin, “Portal-credo.ru” was shut down on 24 April. The site simply ceased functioning; neither the user nor editorial interface is working. According to Vladimir Oivin, the reasons explaining what happened are still unknown, whether they were some technical causes or hacker attacks, which led to the blockage of the portal on the eve of and during the conduct of the Bishops’ and Local councils of RPTsMP for election of Patriarch Kirill as primate of the Russian Orthodox church.

At the beginning of 2009, on 23 January unknown structures blocked access to the information and analysis portal dealing with religion. Access to the portal and its normal work was achieved only by the middle of February. There were signs of a massive DOS attack, which, inter alia, could have led to the physical destruction of the portal’s contents. The editors have connected what happened with the preparations for the Bishops’ and Local councils. Chief editor of “Portal-credo.ru,” Alexander Soldatov, emphasized: “The occasion for such an ordeal was the portal’s systematic publication of information and analytical materials about the candidates for the patriarchal throne and the course of the pre-election campaign.” Despite the absence of any official accusations against our portal, the acting patriarch and representatives of his closest associates often stated that the existence of this news medium was undesirable. On the eve of the election of the patriarch power structures of the Russian federation took upon themselves concern for “assuring its security.”

The chief editor of the portal issued a statement in January: ” This is not the first time that a campaign of targeting and gossip has been undertaken against the Portal, which simply tries to discuss various aspects of church life in our country.Its professionalism and trustworthiness is demonstrated in that not a single accusation against it has ever led to a court case.In this instance, the public figures of the ROC MP and their supporters in the government have shown their fear of truthful information and have turned to coarse bullying instead of an honest and open dialogue.

The editorial board asks other sources of mass media, institutions of secular society, and its readers to demonstrate forcefully against the censorship of the church-government forces and to make all effort to restore the activity of the Portal.

During the time when the Portal will remain blocked, its information can be read in the Live Journal at http://credo-rating.livejournal.com/.We also expect other similar sites and sources of mass media to distribute our information and analytical material. Censorship – is our common enemy.” (tr. by PDS, posted 24 April 2009)