Finish newspaper Helsinin Sanomat has created a custom Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) map explicitly made to bypass Russian news censorship and smuggle information about the war in Ukraine to Russian players.
Starting in March 2022, following its invasion of Ukraine, Russia began blocking international news outlets to implement tighter controls over what news reaches the Russian audience regarding the ongoing war.
CS:GO is one of the most popular first-person shooter games in the world, being the . CS:GO is particularly enjoyed by Russian players, who reportedly constitute roughly of the title’s total player base.
It has also escaped the Russian censorship machine so far, allowing users from the country to log in to CS:GO servers and enjoy their matches without limitation.
As first reported by , a custom CS:GO map named ” resembles the ruins of a Slavic city featuring a secret underground bunker that players can visit to access information about the war in Ukraine.
“On the surface, it seems like a normal Slavic city. However, there might be something hidden underneath,” reads the description of the game map.
The underground room features a selection of key data about the war in both English and Russian. This information includes Russian army death stats from reliable sources, details about missile strikes and other atrocities committed on civilians, images, and location of incidents.
“The purpose is to make Russians see that the terrors of war are happening in places that look very familiar to them,” explains the newspaper on about the launch of the special CS:GO map.[embedded content]
The bunker is also accessible and made more apparent when the player dies on the ‘de_voyna’ map, as the secret room is highlighted during “fly view” mode and is hard to miss for those who don’t know about its existence.
The map was released on May 3, 2023, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day, and it has just started gaining traction, with over 10,000 subscribers. But, unfortunately, the more popular it becomes, the higher the likelihood that Russian authorities will ban CS:GO.
Those interested in downloading ” on their CS:GO installation may do so either via the “Workshop Maps” section in-game or the Steam desktop or web application.
Helsinin Sanomat urges players from Western countries to play the map and try to get Russian players also to play it, which fulfills the primary purpose of its existence.
Last year, a similar project that aimed to “smuggle” information about the war in Ukraine to Russians used movie and game torrents to do it.
Named “,” the initiative planted videos and text in pirated content archives that shared information on how to use VPNs to maintain anonymity from Russian ISPs and a list of reliable news sources.