Authorities in Northwest Russia shut down mobile internet at night as Putin visits the region

Authorities in the Pskov, Novgorod, and Leningrad regions have announced that LTE mobile internet will be shut down at night from 25 to 30 January due to "technical works." The Russian newspaper Kommersant reports, citing its sources, that these works are being carried out at the request of the Ministry of Digital Development (Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation) to meet the needs of security agencies, specifically for the fine-tuning of anti-drone systems.

One of the newspaper's informants shared that enhanced security measures became necessary due to the president's visit, who came to St. Petersburg on 26 January.

A source from one of the telecommunications companies revealed that the initial plan was to shut down mobile internet in the regions during the day as well as at night. "The night-time shutdown is a compromise, but we are still receiving complaints from both individual and corporate subscribers," he explained.

Information about Putin's trips was also confirmed by a source in the telecom market to the news agency RBC, stating that the internet blackout was "linked to the visit to these territories by high-ranking officials with the security entourage from the Federal Security Service (FSO)." On the days of the interruptions, for example on Saturday, 27 January, Putin met with Belarusian President Lukashenko in St. Petersburg.

"The internet shutdown is necessary to ensure a 'clean space' for drones as they are used to enforce security measures at night. Interruptions in communication and the emergency suspension of internet services are permitted in these regions during the day as well, should there be an appropriate command," an RBC source explained.

Another RBC informant, along with those from Kommersant, states that internet shutdown is essential for mitigating the threat of drone attacks. "For guidance, drones use GPS signals, which the Russian authorities deliberately distort, during the day – their own observation cameras, and at night – cellular towers on the ground," he clarifies.

  Putin, Russia