Russians are fleeing their country in droves. Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan; Estonia, Latvia, Montenegro. In the first two weeks of the war alone, Georgia took in 25,000 Russians, and Armenia was receiving some 6,000 Russians per day. By the end of March, 60,000 Russians had gone to Kazakhstan. And many more have sought refuge in a number of different countries in Eastern Europe. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began, Russians who have the means to do so have been racing for the border in what has become the largest exodus since the Bolshevik Revolution.
The dramatic flight underscores the far-reaching effects of Putin’s war.… Seguir leyendo »
In early December, Russian censors scored an unexpected success: Internet users all over the country reported that Tor, an encryption software that allows users to bypass online government controls, was going offline.
The Russian security services have been trying to neutralize Tor for years. They view it as the West’s censorship circumvention tool of choice. Its creation was sponsored by the International Broadcasting Bureau, a U.S. agency that provides technical support to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The irony, though, is that Russian state scored this victory over freedom of information with the help of Western companies.
Russia calls its system for controlling online discourse the “sovereign Internet.”… Seguir leyendo »
On Sept. 16, one day before Russia’s parliamentary election got underway, members of the upper house of the Russian parliament summoned representatives of Google and Apple to rebuke them for allegedly “interfering” in the vote. The tech companies’ ostensible offense: allowing users to access a voting assistance app created by supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In the end, both companies buckled and removed the app from their online stores.
Much of the resulting coverage depicted Moscow’s crackdown on the two Silicon Valley platforms as just another part of the government’s broader assault on freedom of expression. But focusing on that aspect, as accurate as it is, risks missing a bigger story.… Seguir leyendo »
In late November, the number of websites being blocked in Russia reached 1 million, according to Roskomsvoboda, the country’s independent Internet censorship watchdog. This did not surprise the Russian online community, which is used to bad news. The Kremlin’s offensive against Internet freedom has intensified dramatically over the past three years, including the creation of website blacklists, the updating of an advanced national system of online surveillance and increased pressure on international Internet companies to share data with Russian security services.
The failure of the 2011-13 Moscow protests, Russia’s version of a “Twitter Revolution”, to ease Vladimir Putin’s grip on the country, along with all the depressing news from the Middle East, has led many to question the idea that online technology can be used to facilitate political change.… Seguir leyendo »