Publication date: 13 Nov 2023
On 13 November, Ekaterina Mizulina, head of the Safe Internet League, sent a new letter to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow “regarding the implementation of illegal activities on the Internet”. Now her complaint concerns online trainings, webinars and courses. According to Mizulina, in November, Ayaz Shabutdinov, a blogger and author of “business trainings,” was detained and taken into custody. He is accused under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Fraud” and receiving 5 million roubles for advice to “believe in yourself”. It is assumed that other bloggers, such as Edward Bil, Ksenia Gubina, Tata Feodoridy, Askhab Tamayev, Gusein Gasanov and others, could have used a similar algorithm. It was their activities that the Safe Internet League initiated an inspection.
On 16 August 2023, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs refused to initiate criminal proceedings against several bloggers. After an inspection organized by Ekaterina Mizulina and the League for Internet Safety, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that “G.S. Gasanov, Y.M. Khovansky, N.F. Lebedev, A. Nerchuk, A. Burim, E.A. Alekseev, and V. Nigrini have been outside the Russian Federation for a long time and have been conducting their activities remotely…”. Therefore, to interview them as well as “to contact the management of the Twich platform* was not possible”.
*spelling from a copy of the document is preserved.
As a result, the copy of the ruling published by Mash stated that “the enquiry currently finds no event of crime in the actions of the above bloggers under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation…”, so it was decided to “refuse to initiate criminal proceedings for lack of an event of crime”.
Ekaterina Mizulina immediately stated that the decision on refusal would be appealed through the prosecutor’s office. She also said that a “new list of lawbreakers” would be published on 24 August.
Recall that Russian legislation permits to open casinos only in special zones, but online gambling is completely prohibited. Consequently, any advertising of gambling establishments is also banned.
The first case for online casino advertising has been opened in Russia
On 4 August 2023, an administrative case was brought against a Russian blogger for promoting online casinos on his Telegram blog. According to Mash, a case under (14.3 Cao RF) “Violation of advertising laws” has been opened against Askhab Tamaev.
Earlier, the Prosecutor General’s Office examined the blogger’s account along with the content posted there and found violations. For instance, Tamaev offered his subscribers money for registration in an online casino. The case was transferred to the Chechnya Prosecutor’s Office “under special control” and the blogger was ordered to appear there on 24 August 2024.
Furthermore, Askhan Tamaev may face a criminal case for gambling organization on the territory of Russia. He will also be subject to an inspection by the Federal Tax Service. In the near future, the FTS employees will study the financial statements of the blogger and find out how he paid taxes.
Previously, Tamaev was repeatedly warned about the inadmissibility of online gambling advertising. On 15 June, the Safe Internet League published for the 4th time a list of streamers accused of illegal casino advertising.
There are new faces on the list: 31 more streamers have posted banned content. They are Ivan Rudskyi (EeOneGuy), Pavel Klinin (Pasha Pel), Askhab Tamayev, Vladislav Sinotov (SILVERNAME), Ilya Korobkin (ALOHADANCETV), Vitaly Reutov, Olga Popova (FRUKTOZKA), Dmitry Protasov (ADM1TR1POW), Oleg Grishaev (Otets Oleg), Julianna Knysh (BULOCHKA), Daniil Filin (ALADDIN HOKAGE), K1TROFF, Ivan Zolochevsky, SOONVOOSHKO, Idan Vardanian (MAGICAL), SHISHKAR_, OLEGDOMOSEDOV, VANOBUR and others. Each has between 17 million and 3 thousand subscribers on various platforms.
A total of 49 people are on the list published on June 15. As the Safe Internet League head Ekaterina Mizulina clarified, 18 streamers/bloggers had already been blacklisted before. However, they did not stop engaging in illegal activities, but moved their content to other platforms such as Instagram*, YouTube and Telegram. Among them are Gusein Gasanov, Egor Kreed, Yury Khovansky, Nikolay Lebedev (T3KOGLAI), Alexander Zubarev (ZUBAREFF) and others.
The document will soon be submitted to Roskomnadzor and the Russian Federal Tax Service with a request to take measures to restrict illegal content.
By the way! On June 6, 2023, Twitch platform announced new advertising and integration rules for streamers. In particular, it was planned to completely ban gambling ads. The remuneration for bloggers was reduced to 50% and they were prohibited from using most of the advertising formats. After the scandal, the platform cancelled all restrictions and innovations.
And on June 14, 2023, YouTube launched its affiliate program for streamers to monetize content. Bloggers must have a minimum of 500 subscribers on the channel, 3 publicly available videos and 3 thousand hours of their viewing over the last year (or 3 million views on Shorts in 90 days). If these conditions are met, all new features will be connected automatically.
How Russian bloggers are punished for gambling advertising: chronology and facts
On 21 April 2023, Roskomnadzor added the resources of streamers engaged in illegal casino advertising to its register of banned websites. The list of blocked ones includes the accounts of streamers on Twitch, Telegram and Kick.
In particular, the accounts of GENERALQW / Viktor Nigrini, INDIAN0CH / Oleg Gorbenko, KYIVSTONER / Albert Vasiliev, RXNEXUS / Igor Lysakovsky, FOLLOWKUDES / Ilnur Khafizov, VERSUTA / Aren Zurabyan will be blocked by order of the RCN, N3KOGLAI / Nikolay Lebedev, KHOVANSKYTODAY / Yury Khovansky, EGORKREED / Egor Kreed, ZUBAREFF / Alexander Zubarev, A1TAODA / Igor Saiganov, FARBIZZBAT9 / Kirill and Alexander Volynkin, GUSEINNEWS / Gusein Gasanov, MELLSTROY / Andrey Burim.
The Federal Tax Service also reported that “a set of control and analytical measures concerning the possible presence of tax law violations has been organized”.
On 10 April 2023, The Safe Internet League published a new list of streamers accused of illegally promoting online casinos.
The list includes 23 new streamers with an audience of between 4.6 million and 35,000 subscribers.
- Among those who advertise casinos on YouTube are Edward Bil / Eduard Bil, APASNAYARUKA / Vadim Artemov, PEREC – KLYGER (Valery Link and Alexander Kudrov), VJLINK / Kirill Zyryanov, MEETEN SHOW / Artur Mitin, Dmitry Treputin.
- Twitch.TV marked Sveta Sollar, Dasha Kareyka/ Daria Makarova, ICEBERGDOTO / Bogdan Vasilenko, SHADOWKEKW / Maxim Pavlov, Mihalina Novakovskaya, SINDICS / Tatiana Gracheva, LUXURY GIRL / Polina Marchenko, SEINTYS / Andrey Kufanov, BARBIEGIRL / Tatiana Bendyug, ESKHATO, BAXADOTO / Bakytzhan Kaldymurinov, GN_GG / Ivan Katyshev, 97ZONER / Alexander Bogatyrev, 252MART.
- EVELONE / Vadim Kazakov, STEEL / Samvel Oganjanyan are broadcasting gambling on Kick.com.
- Telegram: Nikita Vorozhbitov.
The Safe Internet League has again sent appeals to Roskomnadzor and the Russian Federal Tax Service asking them to take action to restrict illegal content.
On 10 April, the SIL also updated the lists of those who “continued to stream illegal online casino advertisements”. Eighteen streamers/bloggers have not given up their illegal activities.
“Thanks to everyone who takes part in this work and sends us examples of illegal advertising. We have already received 7,100 appeals on this topic. The work of our team in this direction continues,” said Ekaterina Mizulina.
Unscrupulous bloggers: blacklisted for casino adverts
In March 2023, the struggle against illegal casino advertising intensified in Russia.
The Association of Bloggers and Agencies (ABA) has developed a special tool to regulate the market for influencer marketing. It will help identify unscrupulous bloggers who promote banned goods and services.
By using the telegram bot (@aba_blacklist_search_bot), legal entities and ABA members can leave complaints about the quality of service, violation of the law or failure to meet deadlines.
In order to lodge a complaint, it is necessary not only to describe the situation in detail, but also to attach supporting documents.
Moreover, the moderators handle all complaints individually, so that false accusations are avoided.
- The bot has a “check” mode: to find out if there are any complaints about a nickname from a social media link.
The result will be a special list, with bloggers classified into several categories:
- Those who have received more than 3 complaints from different sources are put on the “Black zone” with serious irregularities. ABA members refuse to work with these bloggers.
- The “Yellow zone” includes bloggers who have received one or two complaints; working with them may entail financial and legal risks.
On 29 March 2023, the first bloggers to be blacklisted by the ABA became known:
- Mellstroi and Nekoglai’s Twitch accounts, as well as YouTube blogger Khovansky, appeared in the “Black zone” for advertising online casinos and gambling.
- The “Yellow zone” (bloggers with few complaints) is still empty.
Even earlier, in February 2023, the Safe Internet League (SIL) published its list of bloggers who promote gambling illegally.
According to the SIL, about 30 streamers on Twitch are engaged in gambling advertising in Russia, with an audience of between 70,000 and 600,000 subscribers each. The list of bloggers accused of promoting online casinos includes Vadim Karavaev /Karavay46, Igor Saiganov / A1TAODA, Arsen Zubarian / Versuta, Kirill Volynkin / FarbizzbaT9, Petr0vich99, Ilnur Khafizov / FollowKudes, Igor Lysakovsky / RxNexus, Albert Vasilyev / KyivStoner, Ivan Demkin / MistaFaker, Nikita Sokolov / K4T4N4, Oleg Gorbenko / IndiaNoch, Evgeny Alexeyev / Sh4dowehhh, Valeria Vysotskaya / morphe_ya, Viktor Nigrini / Generalqv, cah4ec_legend.
Previously, bloggers with Telegram, Instagram*, YouTube and Kick accounts were added to the Safe Internet League list: Gusein Gasanov, Egor Kreed / EGORKREED, Yury Khovansky, Nikolay Lebedev / N3KOGLAI, Arthur Nerchuk / ZLOYN, Alexander Zubarev and Andrey Burim / MELLSTROY.
A separate list of particularly persistent offenders advertising online casinos from 2016-2018 included Viktor Khlusov / Vitus and Daniil Lukin / DANLUDAN.
On 13 March, the list was sent to Roskomnadzor (RKN) and the Federal Tax Service (FTS), asking the agencies to take measures to curb the distribution of illegal content.
On March 28, the Russian Investigative Committee joined the fight against bloggers. The SIL clarified that documents for the question of initiating criminal proceedings under Article 171.2 of the Criminal Code (“illegal organisation and conduct of gambling”) had been sent to the agency by Roskomnadzor. Penalties for committing the crime range from 300,000 to 500,000 roubles; it is also possible to receive punishment in the form of obligatory work, or up to four years of restricted freedom, or up to two years of imprisonment.
To complain about bloggers can be done anonymously on the Safe Internet League website in a special section “Online casino advertising”. To do so, simply provide the website address and the source of the information (email, chat room, forum, guestbook, news groups, message boards, knowledge bank).
*The Instagram service is owned by the extremist Meta and is blocked in Russia by court decision.
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