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Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaking with members of the government in Moscow on Wednesday. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/TASS via Getty Images

Russia's government said Wednesday it will slow access to Twitter, claiming the social media giant has failed to remove illegal content from its platform.

Why it matters: Twitter and other U.S. internet companies have long been spaces for freedom of expression in Russia, though the government in recent years has limited its internet connection to the rest of the world to wrest more control over the country's domestic internet.

What they're saying: Russia's telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said it was slowing load times to the platform "to protect Russian citizens" and accused Twitter of failing to remove tweets that contained illegal drug use or child pornography or "content [that] incites minors to commit suicide."

  • Twitter said in an emailed statement it was aware that its platform was being slowed down in Russia "due to apparent content removal concerns."
  • The statement added that it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding child sexual exploitation and illegal activities, like selling or buying drugs.

The big picture: After the regulator tried to slow access to the website, dozens of Russian government websites went offline for about an hour.

  • The crash was likely from a technical glitch, according to the New York Times.
  • Russian activists used American internet companies, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and Chinese-owned TikTok, to organize anti-Kremlin protests over the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny in January.

Go deeper

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

46 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.