Putin wants control of Russian Internet
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As the Internet use in Russia increases spectacularly, having tripled in the
last three years, Putin’ governance concentrates its efforts on getting
control over the Russian Internet after having already gained much control
over the traditional mass media.
Putin’s allies and supporters have created blogs and news sources to flood
the Internet with messages favourable to the present political power.
During a national broadcast live on TV and Radio in October 2007, Putin
tackled the issue of Internet censorship. “Naturally, in this sphere, as in
other spheres, we should be thinking about adhering to Russian laws, about
making sure that child pornography is not distributed, that financial crimes
are not committed” said Putin.
Besides numerous pro-government blogs, several already established online
outlets have been bought by Putin’s allies with the purpose to create a
network to disseminat propaganda and to control the online information.
Such a publication is Gazeta.ru, the most respected online newspaper which
was sold in December to a metals magnate loyal to Putin. Russian officials
have also been looking for the possibility of establishing a separate
Internet within Russia that would serve their purposes.
The reaction of the Kremlin power comes to counterpart situation as the one
having occurred in 2004 when, due to concentrated efforts of uncensored
blogs and on-line publications, a popular uprising in Ukraine provoked the
revoking of the vote for a pro-Moscow candidate in the presidential
In April 2007, when an opposition movement held a march in Moscow, blogger
Pavel Danilin, a Putin supporter, together with his team, started blogging
about a smaller pro-Kremlin march being held the same day. They blogged so
much, and linked to each other so effectively, that they crowded out all the
items about the opposition march from the very influential top-five blog
post listing on the Yandex Web portal.
Prosecutors have also started focussing on Internet chat sites, blogs and
postings in order to charge the users that criticize Putin or other
officials. However, the federal officials deny any campaign to control the
Internet. “Personally, I am against developing and adopting a special law
that would regulate the Internet,” declared Leonid Reiman, Minister of IT&C.
“The Internet has been always developing as a free medium, and it should
remain as such” he added.
Despite the officials’ statements, in July 2007, Putin already announced
his plans to create a global information technology powerhouse network, a
statement that was interpreted by the mass media as an attempt from his part
to establish a controlled network separated from the current Internet which
is organised by ICANN. According to Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, special adviser
to the chairmen of the Internet Governance Forum, some Russian officials are
thinking of a separate Internet, with Cyrillic domain names, taking the
example of China.
Kremlin Seeks To Extend Its Reach in Cyberspace (28.10.2007)
Putin tightens his grip on Russia’s internet (29.10.2007)