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Stockholm - Skyline International for Human Rights condemns and rejects the Russian authorities' decision to partially restrict access to Facebook for thousands of users in Russia after the social network blocked the accounts of four Russian media companies. It stresses that such practices are a violation of the freedom to publish and receive information guaranteed by international law.

In a statement released today, Saturday, Skyline says the Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said on Friday that Facebook had ignored its demands to lift restrictions on four Russian media outlets on its platform – RIA news agency, the Defence Ministry’s Zvezda TV, and websites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru. "In accordance with the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office, starting from Feb. 25, partial access restrictions are being imposed by Roskomnadzor on the Facebook social network," the regulator said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the human rights foundation ''Skyline'' confirms that the main authority responsible for regulating communications and information technology in Russia requested Meta's administration to lift the restrictions it has imposed on some official accounts and explain the reasons for this, but "Meta" ignored the authority's requests.

Meta's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in a statement on Twitter: "Yesterday, Russian authorities ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content posted to Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organizations. We refused. As a result, they have announced they will be restricting the use of our services."

Clegg said "ordinary Russians" were using Meta's apps -- which include Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, as well as Facebook -- to "express themselves and organize for action" and that the company wanted them to continue to do so.

In this regard, Skyline points out that Russian authorities have not explained how they plan to partially block Facebook, but it expects that authorities will restrict access to the site or make it more difficult to access it by instructing ISPs to do so.

The Human Rights Foundation ''Skyline'' stresses that restricting access to some applications such as ''Facebook'' and blocking media and electronic websites violates international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of which states, ''Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.'' This right includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."

Skyline concludes its statement by calling on Russian authorities to reverse their recent decision to partially restrict access to Facebook for thousands of users. It also stresses that these authorities have a duty to create a proper environment in which all individuals can express their opinions and publish information without restriction or persecution. In addition, Skyline calls on the authorities to stop shirking their legal obligation to support the fundamental rights of individuals guaranteed by international and Russian law.