The tests, which come amid mounting concern about a Kremlin campaign to clamp down on internet freedoms, have been described by experts as preparations for an information blackout in the event of a domestic political crisis.
Andrei Semerikov, general director of a Russian service provider called Er Telecom, said Russia’s ministry of communications and Roskomnadzor, the national internet regulator, ordered communications hubs run by the main Russian internet providers to block traffic to foreign communications channels by using a traffic control system called DPI.
The objective was to see whether the Runet – the informal name for the Russian internet – could continue to function in isolation from the global internet.
The experiment, which took place in spring this year, failed because thousands of smaller service providers, which Roskomnadzor has little control over, continued to pass information out of the country, Mr Semerikov said.
Smaller providers account for over 50 per cent of the market in some Russian regions, generally lack the DPI technology used by the larger companies to implement the blocking orders, and often use satellite connections that cannot be easily blocked.
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