By Paul Goble
After its American internet providers refused to continue to carry it, the American neo-Nazi publication, The Daily Stormer, relocated to the Russian domain; but before it could begin posting, the Russian authorities first requested and then ordered that it be taken down.
Given the vicious content of this publication, one can only welcome the decision of Russian officials. But Moscow is getting more credit than it deserves because The Daily Stormer — and more than 100 additional neo-Nazi sites that have been blocked on Western social media — are now functioning without problems on Russian social networks (meduza.io/feature/2017/08/17/amerikanskie-i-evropeyskie-ultrapravye-massovo-pereselyayutsya-v-rossiyskiy-internet-chto).
“Western ultra-right groups have begun to migrate to the Russian segment of the Internet because of Facebook’s blocking of these groups. In ‘VKontakte,’ one can find more than a hundred nationalists groups whose users include people from the US, Germany, Sweden and other countries,” the Meduza news agency says.
Most of these groups migrated to the Russian social networks last year, but some have done so “already after the events in Charlottesville,” the agency says. One US extreme nationalist told Meduza that “’VKontakte for us is a new discovery,” where they can more freely disseminate their messages.
The management of that network says that it will block groups that call for cruelty and violence but not those that simply put out an ideological message. A few of the neo-Nazi groups have been blocked, it appears; but most continue to operate. Both Russian law and Russian practice allow for their removal, but penalties are minimal in most cases, lawyers say.