updated 11:20 am EDT, Sat April 9, 2011
Russia may reject Gmail, Skype bans out of hand
An anonymous official from Russia's Kremlin on Saturday dismissed an FSB proposal to ban Gmail, Hotmail, Skype and possibly other services. The official disliked a set of attacks on a major Russian blogging site but didn't believe the proposal, from the FSB security agency's information lead Alexander Andreyechkin, was necessary. He didn't explain to the AP support why or whether the statement was a sign the government would reject the FSB's measure out of hand.
The proposal was ostensibly to get greater control over communications within Russia, since the services in question often have their servers outside of the country. Local observers believed it was a pretext for a crackdown on communications to help steer the results of parliamentary elections in December and the choice of president in March.
Concerns had existed that the Kremlin would be more likely to support the proposal given Vladimir Putin's connections to the FSB and, even under the Medvedev presidency, a willingness to use the FSB to further his agenda. Relations with the US and a possible backlash from locals could play significant roles in turning down the proposal.