Russian Officials Are Scrambling To Hide Secret Bunkers

Last week, Newsweek reported that in the lead-up to the invasion of Ukraine, Kremlin authorities tried to have a YouTube video removed that featured information about the location of secret bunkers in Moscow, claiming it constituted a Russian state secret.

In the days leading up to the invasion, Moscow’s Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) demanded that YouTube remove an April 2021 video of a lecture by author Dmitry Yurkov in which he highlighted Bunker 703 in Moscow that is now a museum.

Roskomnadzor oversees the media, including mass communications, electronic media, information technology, and telecommunications. It also oversees compliance with Russian law protecting the confidentiality of personal data and organizes the work of the radio frequency service.

In the video, Yurkov was discussing his book “Soviet ‘Secret Bunkers’ Urban Special Fortification of the 1930s-1960s.” The video was uploaded to the “Underground Moscow” YouTube channel run by the Bunker 703 museum in April 2021.

But in February 2022, Roskomnadzor contacted YouTube’s legal support arguing that Yurkov’s lecture included “information constituting a state secret,” according to Meduza. The agency argued that the video should be removed in the interest of Russia’s national defense. To back up its claim, Roskomnadzor cited a court ruling from December 2021 that found that the information remains “relevant” and therefore cannot be declassified.

The following month, Roskomnadzor contacted YouTube a second time demanding that the video be removed from its platform. However, according to Newsweek, the video is still available on YouTube.

Meduza reported that it isn’t clear that Yurkov’s lecture contained any classified or secret information. But according to Meduza, one former employee of the Bunker 703 museum said after Yurkov’s book was released, the museum began receiving letters from the prosecutor’s office as well as warnings from Roskomnadzor that the information in his book was being checked to see if it contained state secrets.

Yurkov, however, maintains that the information in his book has been declassified.