Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov warned on his Twitter account late Monday that Russia may block access to YouTube over the American anti-Islam video that has sparked outrage and riots throughout the Muslim world.
According to Nikiforov, the block may take place around November 3, shortly after a new law restricting Internet access takes effect on November 1. The law is designed to protect children from Internet pornography, but critics have assailed it as a move to dampen dissent.
Russia's Prosecutor General’s Office has declared the film, Innocence of Muslims, to be extremistand will seek a court ruling to ban the controversial video in Russia, its spokeswoman said on Monday.
The law enforcement arm has instructed the federal mass communications watchdog “to take measures to prevent media distribution of the information contained in this film,” she said.
The watchdog has already recommended that Russian Internet providers block access to the film, which portrays Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad in a negative light.
Senator Ruslan Gattarov filed a request to the Prosecutor General’s Office earlier on Monday asking to prohibit the online demonstration of the film, which sparked riots across the Muslim world last week, including in Benghazi, where U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed along with three others during riots at the U.S. consulate there.
“Obviously, the purpose of this film’s promoters is a religious split of the society, which can have far-reaching consequences,” said Gattarov, who compared the film to “child pornography” in his own Twitter blog on Monday.
The 14-minute trailer to Innocence of Muslims was originally posted on YouTube last June. It attracted little attention until September 8, when portions of the trailer were broadcast by a television network in Egypt.