• LGBT rights activists march in St Petersburg, Russia. (AFP)Source: AFP
The site was shut down abruptly and with no warning as part of a larger crackdown on freedom of expression online.
Stephanie Marie Anderson

27 Sep 2016 - 2:01 PM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2016 - 2:01 PM

Russia has just blocked one of the country's leading LGBTQIA+ websites - BlueSystem.ru - without offering any reason or warning to the site's admins.

Blocked by Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor, the site drew 100k visitors a day and was considered "one of the top gay news and dating sites" in Russia.

“The Kremlin is afraid of gays," wrote the website on its Vkontakte page, Russia's version of Facebook. "On the eve of the State Duma elections, the Kremlin mobilized its repressive machine and blocked the most popular Runet gay site.”

Tanya Lokshina, Russia's program director for Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast that "LGBT resources get blocked as part of a broader crackdown on freedom of expression online.”

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She added: “The authorities are also attempting to shut down Children-404 (Deti-404), an online support group for LGBT teens.”

One Russian television anchor - Pavel Lobkov - commented that the site was "mainly popular as a dating resource" but that "people will always find a new way to date online".

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He continued: "The authorities do not understand that their banning machine is pushing LGBT people to hang out in parks, meet under trees, that sort of thing, which would definitely increase crime in Russia, as has happened in countries like Morocco.”

The website can still be accessed from outside Russia.