Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Moscow - Russians access to Facebook and Twitter is safe if Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has a say in the matter.

The government leader rebuked a communications official for saying in an interview published yesterday that Russia has the right to fully block online social networks if they don’t uphold new legislation tightening control over the Internet.

“Certain bureaucrats, responsible of developing sectors, need to use their brains and not give interviews announcing the closure of social networks,” Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page, after saying that both users and networks should obey Russian legislation.

President Vladimir Putin urged his government last month to impose greater control over information flows through the Internet, which the former KGB colonel called a creation of US spy agencies.

A week later, he signed a law that requires companies such as Google to locate servers handling Russian traffic inside the country from August 1, similar to Chinese rules, and store user data for six months.

The legislation also will oblige Russian-language bloggers with 3,000 or more readers to register with the communications watchdog and will make both them and their hosts liable for content.

“We can block Twitter or Facebook in Russia tomorrow, in a matter of minutes,” Maxim Ksenzov, the deputy head of communications regulator Roskomnadzor, said yesterday in an interview published in the Izvestia newspaper.

“We don’t see any big risks in that. If at some point we judge that the consequences from ‘turning off’ social networks is less significant than the damage caused to Russian society from the unconstructive position of management at international companies, then we’ll do what we’re legally bound to do.”

Ksenkov defended his words on his Twitter feed, thanking those who supported him yesterday and saying those who don’t can at least see that “clear problems” are being discussed.

The Communications Ministry, which oversees the regulator, gave Ksenzov a warning for overstepping the bounds, Itar-Tass reported today, citing the ministry’s press service. - Bloomberg News