Tracking Social Media Takedowns and Content Moderation During the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Authors: April Glaser, Jazilah Salam
Editors Note 5/27/2022: We are no longer updating this timeline as of Apr. 12, 2022. We hope this document serves as a useful chronology of how internet and digital media companies responded in the first month and a half of an active and rapidly unfolding war and humanitarian crisis, under pressure from governments and the public to remove content from and, in some cases, terminate services in entire regions of the world. Meanwhile, the Kremlin continues to move toward establishing a domestically controlled internet in Russia (read more about that here)
As Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 21, 2022 has intensified into a war and humanitarian crisis, major internet companies have struggled to respond to a mix of pressure from the Ukrainian and Russian governments, international sanctions, and the public to remove content on their platforms. Internet companies have responded with everything from temporary removals of certain posts on social media in Ukraine or Russia to unplugging some sites from global internet infrastructure altogether.
The Technology and Social Change Project at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center has been tracking moves by major technology companies and governments to limit the flow of and renege internet services since the outset of fighting. This includes state sponsored misinformation and content removed at the behest of governments and in response to international sanctions, as people worldwide depend on the internet and social media to receive updates of the rapidly unfolding violence. In our research tracking how social media and internet companies race to mitigate the rapid spread of confusing and false information in the throes of a violent crisis, we’ve found that internet companies tend to follow each others’ lead. They often coordinate with and echo the actions of other platforms that take initial steps to remove false or misleading content.
The cycle of content removals during this crisis has followed a trajectory similar to that of earlier crises, propelled by international sanctions and Russian media laws forcing companies to respond at a rapid pace. Still, major internet companies appear to be treading carefully, rarely citing internal policies as justification for removing content or channels. Additionally, even if internet platforms had previously allowed now banned channels, like Russian state media, to broadcast false information to millions, they rarely directly address or outline any policy change.
We will continue to add weekly updates to this tracker as the battle to control global and local narratives of the escalating crisis is waged online. These updates will be accompanied by a note indicating when the change was made. The timeline was originally published in chronological order, but now has been edited to display in reverse chronological order for ease of following along.
Saturday April 9
- 4/9 - YouTube blocked Russian parliament channel Duma TV, according to Reuters. The channel broadcasts Russia’s lower house of parliament. On Saturday, April 9, a message on the Duma TV YouTube channel announced that it had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor requested Google restore access to the Duma YouTube channel immediately.
Monday April 4
- 4/4 - Instagram temporarily restricted the hashtags #bucha and #buchamassacre, which were being used to share content related to civilian deaths in Bucha, northern Ukraine, according to Reuters. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted that it was automated content moderation that blocked those hashtags and the graphic content that was posted alongside them. Stone clarified that when the company found out about the restriction, it unblocked the hashtags.
Friday March 25
3/25 - Spotify said that it will suspend service in Russia entirely in response to recent media laws that could amount to jail time for anyone accused of spreading content that the Russian government considers false about the country’s war in Ukraine, according to the BBC. Spotify says it is pulling out of Russian because the new law puts its employees and potentially even its listeners at risk.
Thursday March 24
3/24 - The Russian government announced it began blocking Google News inside the country. It said this move was undertaken in response to the accusation that the company’s new aggregator promoted “inauthentic information” about the war, according to a Guardian report. The ban on Google News in Russia came hours after Google announced that it had expanded its policy against the monetization of content or advertisements that promote violence. Now, that policy extends to include content that “exploits, dismisses, or condones” the war in Ukraine.
Monday March 21
3/21 - A Russian court officially outlawed Facebook and Instagram in the country after finding that Meta, the parent company of the two platforms, guilty of “extremism,” according to Buzzfeed. The ruling was in response to Meta’s policy update that allowed for users in some countries to call for violence against Putin and Russian soldiers in Ukraine and comes after Russian regulators already blocked Facebook and Instagram earlier in March. The ban does not apply to Meta’s other social messaging company, WhatsApp.
Friday March 18
3/18 - Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor accused YouTube of allowing ads that threatened Russian citizens and warned parent company Google to stop publishing “anti-Russian videos as soon as possible,” according to TechCrunch.
Tuesday March 15
3/15 - Slack, a group chat platform, cut off access to some Russian customers in compliance with international sanctions, Axios reported. Numerous organizations in the country were locked out of their Slack channels without notice.
Monday March 14
3/14 - Meta clarified that “calls for the death of a head of state” are banned on its platform and that threats of violence against the Russian military are only allowed in Ukraine and in the context of the invasion of Ukraine, according to The Guardian, which cited an internal statement to staff sent by Nick Clegg, the company’s head of global policy. This update followed a report a few days prior that Meta would allow content that called for violence against Russian soldiers in numerous Eastern European countries.
Friday March 11
- 3/11 - Roskomnadzor blocked Instagram in Russia and labeled its parent company, Meta, an “extremist organization,” because the platform allows for “calls for violence” against Russian soldiers, the BBC reported. Meta announced it would temporarily allow users on Facebook and Instagram in 12 Eastern European countries – including Poland, Ukraine, and Russia – to post violent content such as posts calling for the death of Russian president Vladmir Putin or Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, according to The Independent. Normally, Facebook and Instagram both prohibit the incitement of violence on their platforms.
3/11 - YouTube announced that it has begun to block access to Russian state-funded media channels globally, citing policies that restrict content that “denies, minimizes or trivializes well-documented violent events,” reports The Guardian. In a statement on Twitter, the company said that its teams have removed more than 1,000 channels and over 15,000 videos since announcing that it would be removing content related to the invasion of Ukraine.
3/11 - Twitter is adding labels and reducing the visibility of accounts and tweets sharing links to state-affiliated media outlets in Belarus, in response to reporting about the country’s role in the war in Ukraine, Yoel Roth, head of Site Integrity at Twitter, shared in a statement.
Thursday March 10
3/10 - Twitter removed tweets by the Russian Embassy in the UK for violating the platform’s “hateful conduct” and “abusive behavior” policies, a spokesperson told CNBC. In one removed tweet, the Russian embassy claimed that a pregnant woman, seen in photos of a children’s hospital in Mariupol destroyed by a Russian airstrike, was staged as Ukrainian propaganda.
3/10 - YouTube and the Google Play store are suspending all payment-based services in Russia, including subscriptions, app purchases and monetization features due to disruptions caused by international sanctions on the country, Reuters reported. YouTube channels in Russia can still generate revenue from viewers outside of the country, and free apps in the Google Play store will still be available for download.
Wednesday March 9
3/9 - Twitter launched a version of its website to circumvent Russia’s block of the service, according to The Guardian. Users can access this version of Twitter if they download Tor, a service that allows people to browse the web anonymously by routing it through multiple services to hide user-identifying information. This enables people to access parts of the web blocked by governments or internet providers. Tor Facebook has supported Tor since 2014.
3/9 - Internet search engine DuckDuckGo updated its search feature so that websites associated with Russian will show up low in people’s search results, the company’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg stated on Twitter. It is the first time the search engine has “downranked” websites that peddle misinformation and disinformation, reports the tech news site Engadget.
Tuesday March 8
3/8 - Lumen, a major U.S.-based Internet infrastructure provider to Russia, announced it was disconnecting its network in the country “due to increased security risk,” The Washington Post reports. The company’s Russian customers include two of the country’s largest telecom providers: state-owned Rostelecom and TransTelekom. Rostelecom claims to serve 11 million customers with fiber internet and more than 47.5 million with mobile service.
Sunday March 6
3/6 - Netflix has suspended service in Russia, according to Reuters. The move follows Netflix’s decision to pause all productions in Russia and its refusal to host Russian state-sponsored channels – which would have been necessary to comply with a new regulation for international streaming services in the country.
3/6 - Tik Tok is suspending new video uploads and livestreams on its app in Russia in compliance with the country’s new “fake news” law. The change will not affect in-app messaging services. During this suspension, TikTok said in a statement on Twitter that it will review the “safety implications'' of this law for its users and employees.
Saturday March 5
3/5 - Mastercard and Visa will suspend their operations in Russia. The suspension prevents cards issued from Russian banks from working outside of the country and blocks people who received cards outside of Russia from using their card to make purchases inside Russia. Mastercard and Visa cards that were issued by Russian banks may still work in the country because those transactions are maintained by a local processor, officials said to the New York Times.
Friday, March 4
- 3/4 - Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal agency overseeing telecoms in the country, announced it is blocking access to Facebook in the country entirely. A statement from Roskomnadzor cites what it refers to as ”26 incidents of discrimination” against Russian media since Oct. 2020 as the reason for the blockage.
Since Feb. 24, when Russia intensified its attack on Ukraine, Facebook has made some Russian state media harder to find across the platform, and has complied with the EU’s demand that it block RT and Sputnik entirely in Europe. The company has also been adding misinformation labels to Russian state-sponsored websites.
- 3/4 - Early Friday, the Russian parliament passed a new censorship law that makes spreading “fake news” about the Russian military a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail, according to The Moscow Times and numerous other outlets. President Putin signed the bill into law shortly after on the same day. Russia already had a law against fake news, passed in 2019. As The Verge notes, that law was broader – applying to all news about the Russian government, not just the military – and involved a much lighter penalty (up to 15 days in jail). Russia’s “fake news” laws are not unique. Several other governments around the world, particularly in the Global South, have passed similar laws in recent years. So has China.
- 3/4 - Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor also began blocking the social media platform Twitter in Russia, according to the international information group Interfax. This was also reported by multiple news outlets. Russia first started restricting access to Twitter on Feb. 26, 2022.
- 3/4 - After the EU imposed sanctions on Russian state media Russia Today and Sputnik, Telegram blocked the official Telegram channels of both media outlets, as reported by Politico and verified by TaSC. Though the EU sanctions do not apply to the U.S., the channels are blocked for U.S.-based users as well. When attempting to access the Russia Today Telegram channel, which had 6,290 subscribers as of March 3, 2022, users are met with the message, “The channel can’t be displayed because it violated local laws.” However, the Telegram channels of at least one prominent RT reporter was not blocked. Telegram is known for its commitment to free speech and anti-censorship mindset, but has taken steps to block certain content in the past.
3/4 - U.S.-based Cogent Communications, one of the world’s largest internet infrastructure providers, told its Russian customers it was terminating their contracts to comply with the European Union’s rule banning Russian state-media, according to the Washington Post. While Cogent’s decision won’t disconnect Russian’s from the global internet, it will likely result in slower connectivity and network congestion. Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer told the Post that the goal is to prevent the Russian government from using the company as a vector for cyberattacks and propaganda, not to “hurt anyone,” and that the company does not want Russian civilians to be restricted from accessing the internet.
3/4 - The EU asked Google to remove Russian-state owned media from Google’s search engine results, according to an email from Google obtained by the Wall Street Journal. The EU ban on broadcasting RT and Sputnik, which has resulted in TV providers removing the two outlets from their channel offerings and social media companies blocking those accounts, also applies to internet service providers, said a spokesperson for the European Commission. The Washington Post later reported that searches for “Russia Today” on Google in Europe did not produce a link to the organization’s webpage, while the same search in the U.S. did.
3/4 - Twitter banned more than 100 accounts that promoted a pro-Russian hashtag, #IStandWithPutin, for “participating in ,” and violating Twitter’s manipulation policy, according to an NBC report.
Thursday, March 3
- 3/3 - Google blocked people from writing new reviews on its Google Maps service in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine because the service was being used to update news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a spokesperson told AFP. The company also said it was “removing user contributions like photos, videos, reviews and business information and all user-submitted places” on Google maps added since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, according to Buzzfeed News.
- 3/3 - Travel platform Tripadvisor began blocking access to any reviews that contain content focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that this move was undertaken after the website's automated content moderating systems picked up an influx of “fake reviews on a number of Russian pages.”
3/3 - GoDaddy, an American internet domain registrar and web hosting company, has removed the Russian version of its website, removed all .ru domain names from its domain name aftermarket, will no longer accept the Russian ruble as currency, and is no longer supporting new registrations of .ru and .ru.com, GoDaddy said in a statement on its website.
Wednesday, March 2
- 3/2 - YouTube removed the internet stream of the Russian independent radio station Echo of Moscow, according to a tweet from the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Around the same time, Echo of Moscow’s radio broadcast was also taken off air by the Russian government, and its website was no longer accessible online, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
3/2 - Audio streaming company Spotify has removed all content from Russia-sponsored outlets RT and Sputnik, a company representative said in a statement to Variety. The streaming service has also closed its offices in Russia indefinitely.
3/2 - PayPal, an online payment and money transfer service, stopped accepting new Russian users, a spokesperson told Reuters. The company had already blocked some users and Russian banks in compliance with US sanctions following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with Reuters, Ukraine's deputy minister for digital transformation Alexander Bornyakov implored PayPal to shut down completely in Russia.
3/2 - Twitch, a live streaming platform owned by Amazon and popular with gamers, announced it will block Russian-state media from the platform, a spokesperson told The New York Times. The company said it will also ban users who “persistently spread” harmful misinformation” that has been “widely debunked.” While Russian state media outlets did not have a significant presence on the platform, Twitch removed one channel that it believed had ties to RT.
Tuesday, March 1
- 3/1 - YouTube told Reuters it will now block channels from Russian state-backed media outlets Sputnik and RT across the European continent.
- 3/1 - Reddit has restricted access to the r/Russia and r/RussiaPolitics subreddits due to misinformation spreading in the channels, according to Mashable. The restrictions prevent the subreddits from showing up in searches, recommendations or feeds unless a user has specifically requested seeing the content.
- 3/1 - Facebook’s head of security Nathaniel Gleitcher said in a series of tweets that the company has been making the pages of Russian state-sponsored media harder to find on Facebook and Instagram. The company is also demoting and labeling posts that include links to Russian state media websites on Facebook and Instagram, Gleitcher said.
- 3/1 - Apple has temporarily suspended product sales inside Russia and has removed the RT and Sputnik News apps from the Apple App Store outside Russia, according to the Guardian. The company has also disabled traffic and live incidents on Apple Maps inside Ukraine to help protect Ukrainian citizens’ safety, a statement from Apple reads.
Apple also began limiting the operation of Apple Pay for Russian bank customers, according to the tech site CNET, in compliance with U.S. sanctions. The move affects customers of Russian banks including Russia’s Central Bank, VTB Group, Sovcombank, and Novikombank. They will no longer be able to use Apple Pay when making transactions in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia.
- 3/1 - The online television streaming platform Roku announced that it would be dropping RT from its streaming services worldwide, according to The Verge.
- 3/1 - Digital satellite television service DirectTV is dropping Russian state media’s English-language RT America channel from its offerings. DirectTV was one of RT’s largest U.S. distributors, according to Axios.
- 3/1 - Social media app Snapchat stopped allowing Russian and Belarussian entities from running ads on Snapchat and will no longer display ads in Belarus, Russia, or Ukraine, the company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. While Snapchat will continue to operate in the region, it said it will comply with all sanctions “targeting Russian businesses and individuals.'' On its “Discover” page, where Snapchat surfaces new content, the company will only highlight content from verified by its own media partners, which does not include any Russian state media outlets.
3/1 - Roskomnadzor threatened to block Wikipedia over its Russian-language page about Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. It claims the article contains “false messages” about war casualties and the effects of economic sanctions after a Feb. 27 user edit. Wikipedia, the main project of the U.S-based Wikipedia Foundation, is a user-generated free encyclopedia published in more than 300 languages. The Wikimedia Foundation, in a statement sent to The Verge, said that it “will not back down in the face of efforts to censor and intimidate members of our movement.”
3/1 - Google announced it removed Russian state media such as RT from its Google News search tool and other news-related services, reports Reuters.
Monday, Feb. 28
- 2/28 - The Russian government reportedly asked TikTok to restrict the recommendations of Ukrainian war footage to the feeds of minors, claiming it identified anti-Russian content “on the subject of a special military operation in Ukraine” and “related political content, purposefully offered to a children’s audience.” TikTok’s terms of service requires users of its main app to be over the age of 13.
- 2/28 - The Russian government sent a letter to Google, according to Reuters, demanding the company restrict information that appears in Google Ads, which it claimed includes inaccuracies about the Ukrainian casualties of the Russian invasion.
- 2/28 - Twitter said it will begin to label and reduce the visibility of tweets that contain links to Russian state media sources, like RT and Sputnik, according to Reuters. The company said that since the invasion began, users shared more than 45,000 tweets a day containing links to Kremlin-linked media sources.
- 2/28 - Facebook’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg tweeted that the company will restrict access to RT and Sputnik across the European Union. The change was made following requests from “a number of Governments and the EU,” Clegg said.
- 2/28 - Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blogpost that MSN.com and the company’s newsfeed service would no longer post content from Russian state media, RT and Sputnik. The company is also removing RT’s news apps from the Windows app store and downranking Russian state-sponsored media in Bing search results. Microsoft will also no longer host advertisements from RT and Sputnik on any of its ad networks, Stone said.
- 2/28 - The Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland published a letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter accuses social media companies of looking the other way for years while the Russian government trumpeted disinformation on their platforms and says the companies are “now an accessory to the criminal war of aggression the Russian government is conducting against Ukraine and the free world.”
The Prime Ministers listed several demands of the tech companies, including suspending accounts engaged in justifying or glorifying war crimes and suspending official accounts of Russian and Bellrussian government institutions and leadership. The prime ministers also asked that the companies demonetize accounts controlled by the Russian and Belrussian governments and to adjust search algorithms to help internet users find reliable information about the war in Ukraine.
- 2/28 - TikTok will be blocking Russian state media’s RT and Sputnik in the EU, according to NPR. People using video sharing social media app in the European Union will not be able to access pages or content posted by the two outlets.
- 2/28 - Netflix said it has no plans to comply with a new Russian rule requiring it to carry at least 20 government-backed channels in order to operate in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new rule is supposed to go into effect March 1, 2022, and applies to all audio and visual services that reach over 100,000 people. Netflix is the only international service in Russia with enough subscribers for the rule to apply.
2/28 - Namecheap, a U.S.-based domain name registration and web hosting company, will be terminating services to users registered in Russia, the company wrote in an email sent to current users. The company requested Russian users transfer their business to another provider by March 6, giving them one week to find an alternative.
Sunday, Feb. 27
- 2/27 - Facebook took down a Russian disinformation operation targeting Ukraine that involved 40 accounts and pages across Facebook and Instagram, according to a Facebook blogpost and the Washington Post. The accounts pretended to be associated with news outlets in Kyiv.
Facebook said the relatively small disinformation operation had ties to two media organizations in the Russian-occupied Crimea region of Ukraine, NewsFront and South Front. Both of these organizations had previously been sanctioned by the U.S. for peddling disinformation on behalf of the Russian government during the 2020 U.S. elections. In April 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department accused both organizations of working on behalf of Russian intelligence services to promote perceptions of voter fraud in the U.S. and misinformation about coronavirus. Facebook said the groups were also active on Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and Russian social media platforms VK and Odnoklassniki.
- 2/27 - Facebook said it had also taken action against a hacking and misinformation group called Ghostwriter that has successfully targeted Ukrainian military, public officials and journalists with phishing scams. These attacks allowed Ghostwriter to take over others' social media accounts. According to cybersecurity firm Mandiant, Ghostwriter works for the Belarus government. For the last four years, the group has been spreading anti-NATO and anti-U.S. messages and misinformation targeting wedge issues in Eastern Europe.
- 2/27 - Facebook president of global affairs Nick Clegg tweeted that the company had restricted access to Russian state media accounts in Ukraine at the behest of the Ukrainian government. “We have been in contact with the Government of Ukraine, and at their request we have also restricted access to several accounts in Ukraine, including those belonging to some Russian state media organizations.” Clegg added that Facebook was considering requests from other governments to restrict Russian state media, too.
- 2/27 - Google Maps temporarily disabled features, like the tracking of live traffic conditions and identification of how "busy" businesses and public places are. The changes were made to protect local communities on the ground in Ukraine, Reuters reported. The move was made after consulting regional authorities.
- 2/27 - The European Union announced that it was banning Russian state-backed channels Russia Today and Sputnik. This was an unprecedented move for the EU and one that was not, according to the Guardian, widely deliberated by government officials before being announced. The ban came as part of a package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, “Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union. So we are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
- 2/27 - Google reportedly blocked access to Russia Today app downloads in the Android app store in Ukraine.
- 2/27 - In a series of posts, Telegram founder Pavel Durov urged users from Ukraine and Russia to be wary of information shared on the platform and that the company would consider partially or fully restricting some of its channels if the conflict in Ukraine escalated. Later in the day, he put a strikethrough in the text of his previous message, sharing that users had persuaded him against restricting any messaging services, according to a report in The Information.
- 2/27 - Japan’s Rakuten Group, owner of Viber – the second most popular messaging service in both Ukraine and Russia – said in a Feb. 27 statement it will remove advertising from its apps in Russia and Ukraine. Ninety-seven percent of smartphone owners in Ukraine use Viber, according to Reuters. This came a day after Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov asked Rakuten to block Viber in Russia, but the company declined. It said doing so would “harm the people of Ukraine by preventing free, private and secure communication.”
Saturday, Feb. 26
- 2/26 - YouTube tweeted that it has begun blocking a handful of Kremlin-run media outlets, including Russia Today, from monetizing and running ads on their channels. Videos from these channels will also be down ranked in recommendations, and RT and other affiliated channels will no longer be accessible in Ukraine. The Russian media organizations are also blocked from buying ads on Google properties, including Search and Gmail, Reuters reported. In September 2021, the Russian government threatened to block YouTube for removing two RT-affiliated channels.
- 2/26 - Access to Twitter was restricted on major Russian telecom providers, including Rostelecom, MTS, Beeline, and MegaFon, according to the internet outage tracking organization Netblocks. Twitter released a statement saying that it was aware that the platform was being restricted for some people in Russia and were working to keep their service accessible.
- 2/26 - Russia intensified pressure on U.S. social media companies to comply with its content policies via its “landing law,” which went into effect Jan. 1, 2022. The new law requires social media companies with over 500,000 daily users, which includes most major U.S. social media platforms, that operate in Russia to set up legal entities in the country, which would then subject the companies to Russian government censorship demands. Russia told U.S. social media companies that they had until the end of February 2022 to comply with the new law or else face penalties like fines and shutdowns.
So far, according to the New York Times, Apple, Spotify and TikTok have complied with the new law. Google, Twitter and Facebook have taken some steps to comply. Twitch and Telegram have not complied.
Friday, Feb. 25
- 2/25 - Facebook’s head of security Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted that Facebook will stop allowing Russian state media from running ads on its properties.
- 2/25 - The Russian government said it will begin limiting access to Facebook in response to Facebook adding misinformation warning labels to content on four government-controlled news accounts: the state-run news agency RIA Novosti; the Defense Ministry’s television channel, Zvezda; and the Russian online news organizations, Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru.
- 2/25 - Twitter announced it is temporarily banning all ads on its platform in Russia and Ukraine “to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it.” Twitter previously banned all ads from state owned media worldwide in 2019.
- 2/25 - Ukrainian government officials requested that Apple CEO Tim Cook block Russians from accessing the Apple App Store.
Wednesday, Feb. 23
- 2/23 - Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecommunications regulator, sent a letter to Google, requesting the company to remove restrictions on the YouTube channel of Denis Pushilin, the Russia-backed leader* of the occupied territory of eastern Ukraine, which Moscow recognises as independent.
*Updated on 3/1/2022 to clarify who Denis Pushilin is.
**Updated on 3/3/2022 to more accurately reflect the nature of state-sponsored media manipulation
FOR MEDIA REQUESTS PLEASE CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org.