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Pro-suicide Groups on Russian Social Media?

News broke last week of a potentially wide-ranging problem, prompting action by the authorities.

Russian investigators have opened a criminal case against the owners of a social media that had reportedly contained posts on suicide, state-run news agency TASS reported on 20 May.

The owners of a group page on VKontakte (VK), Russia’s most popular social network, have been accused of pushing teenagers to suicide, charges that could lead to up to five years of imprisonment.

Russia’s independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta newspaper published an article last week that claimed that 130 teenagers killed themselves after joining pro-suicide groups on VKontakte between November 2015 and April 2016.

These groups had been “systematically and consistently working step by step to push the children” to commit suicide, the report says.

Following the publication of the Novaya Gazeta article, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it had started to block groups containing pro-suicide materials without the possibility of appeal. So far, eight pages have already been blocked, the watchdog said in a statement on its Facebook page.