CS:GO is being used to bypass Russian media restrictions and report on the Ukraine war

A war-torn CS:GO map called De_Voyna
(Image credit: Valve / Helsingin Sanomat)

A Finnish newspaper is using CS:GO to deliver reporting on Putin's invasion of Ukraine directly to anyone playing the Steam game in Russia, bypassing rules that would otherwise limit traditional media.

Launched earlier today, on World Press Freedom Day, Helsingin Sanomat put together a CS:GO map intending to distribute "independent journalism" on the war in Ukraine. 

"Russians have very little chance to receive independent information about Putin's invasion of Ukraine," Helsingin Sanomat editor-in-chief Antero Mukka tells GamesRadar+ in an email.

"However, the gaming world and gamers themselves are still left unchecked. That's why we decided to hide a newspaper inside the world's most popular war game. We built a map of a Slavic city devastated by a war, inside the game, with a secret room that offers Russian gamers an uncensored access to the horrors of the war in Ukraine in their native language."

The map itself is called "de_vonya", with the latter half of that title translating to 'war' - a word Russian authorities have outlawed in connection to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

A secret room within a CS:GO map called De_Voyna

(Image credit: Valve / Helsingin Sanomat)

Images of a devastated town are reasonably common in games like CS:GO, though the material in the secret room found when spectating a kill cam makes the intent more explicit. As for the secret room, you'll find swathes of images and collections of text that detail the "cruelties" witnessed by Helsingin Sanomat's reporters.

"Ordinary Russians know practically nothing about the war crimes and atrocities toward civilians committed by the Russian army," Mukka says.

"One of the most touching stories in the secret room is about a Ukrainian man that went to the store. While he was there, Russian troops killed his family with a missile strike. The secret room built into the game is meant to force Russian gamers to face what's really going on in the war in Ukraine."

De_vonya is currently available to download with CS:GO, and you can do so in-game if you want to check it out for yourself.

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Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.