Russian City Faces Major Shutdown During Putin Visit

Emerging patterns of connectivity issues raise concerns globally

by Zain ul Abedin
Russian City Faces Major Shutdown During Putin Visit
© Sergey Guneev/Getty Images

In a notable development from southern Russia, the city of Krasnodar experienced a significant curtailing of internet and mobile communication services coinciding with President Vladimir Putin's visit, as revealed by multiple reports from Russian media outlets.

The independent news source 7x7 disclosed on Thursday that city residents received prior notifications about the comprehensive suspension of communication services in specific urban sections due to the presidential tour. Additionally, the imposition of several highway closures was reported, underscoring the extensive preparatory measures for Putin's arrival.

Compounding the situation, residents in particular districts were advised to minimize their use of elevators on Thursday. This unusual request stems from concerns that emergency services could be unreachable amidst the communications blackout, coupled with restricted road accessibility.

The state-owned publication Kommersant echoed these developments on Wednesday, highlighting the unique challenges faced by the city's populace during the high-profile visit. The Krasnodar region, which serves as a vital link to the annexed Crimean peninsula - a territory under Russian control since 2014 and a strategic launchpad for military operations against Ukraine - welcomed Putin on Thursday.

The visit draws attention to the region's geopolitical significance, further amplified by past incidents reported by Russian independent journalist Farida Rustamova. In February 2023, Rustamova pointed out a similar disruption in mobile internet service in Volgograd preceding Putin's visit, indicating a pattern of communication constraints associated with the president's tours.

Communication Disruptions Persist

Moreover, the Black Sea city of Sochi, another key location within the Krasnodar territory, encountered "temporary interruptions" in mobile internet service during Putin's visit in June 2023, an event that also featured the participation of international delegates, including Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The narrative of communication disruptions continued with the organization of an economic forum in St. Petersburg, where authorities announced a temporary internet blackout for mobile devices during Putin's address, advising attendees to rely on a provided wireless connection.

During his stay in Krasnodar, Putin engaged in various activities, including a visit to the Higher Military Aviation School, where he interacted with female pilots and tested a flight simulator. His commendation of the Russian air force's performance in recent military engagements, despite significant aircraft losses reported by Ukraine, underscored the visit's thematic focus on defense and national security.

Additionally, Putin's inspection of a new martial arts training facility, as shared by Krasnodar's governor Veniamin Kondratyev on Telegram, highlighted the president's interest in the physical preparedness and sporting prowess of the region's inhabitants.