NEWSWATCH: Russia Today/RT: “Communications Ministry mulls total control over Russian sector of the web – reports”

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

Kremlin-backed Russia Today/RT announced that the Rusian government is contemplating a takeover of Russian portions of the internet: The Communications Ministry has prepared a bill that formally defines critical digital infrastructure and allows only Russian companies to own the hardware and databases that control the .ru and .рф domains of the internet, mass media report. Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s suspected meddling in a U.S. election would be a disturbing first” – Washington Post

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Credit for the internecine furor that disrupted the Democratic Party on the eve of its convention should go to Vladimir Putin. … cybersecurity experts say Russian intelligence operatives were likely responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, as well as for leaking to the Moscow-friendly WikiLeaks website some 20,000 emails. The trove appeared online Friday, just in […]

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In Ukraine, not only heroes deserve justice; A Ukrainian blogger sentenced for his scandalous views on the conflict in the Donbas has just been released. Whatever his shortcomings, Ruslan Kotsaba deserved our solidarity.

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(OpenDemocracy – opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards and Thomas Rowley – July 17, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Last Thursday, Ruslan Kotsaba addressed journalists in a west Ukrainian courthouse, tears running down his face. “This is a […]

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What Russia’s New Draconian Data Laws Mean for Users

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – July 14, 2016) After three years of relative silence, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden spoke up: “[President Vladimir] Putin has signed a repressive new law that violates not only human rights, but common sense. Dark day for Russia.” For the man who fled to Russia after blowing the lid off the NSA’s unprecedented […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Five Rules for Living Through and Looking Beyond the Putin Stagnation

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2016) Those who lived through the Brezhnev stagnation, commentator Dmitry Gubin says, know that “when the chances for change for the better don’t exist, one must particularly carefully filter information and choose one’s strategy of behavior.” Now, Russia is in another such period, and to help them, he offers five […]

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Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser

Kremlin and River

Russia has seen a dramatic rise in criminal prosecutions on charges of internet extremism over the last few months. Yet most of these cases concern not the creation of extremist content but retweeting, liking or reposting it. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 7, 2016) On Feb. 20, Yekaterina Vologzhenova, […]

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Boycott Russia Today facebook page: “BRT reading list of critical online articles about RT, 2010-2016”

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Facebook – Boycott Russia Today facebook page – reused with permission) Bullough, Oliver (2013) Inside Russia Today: counterweight to the mainstream media, or Putin’s mouthpiece?: http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/world-affairs/2013/05/inside-russia-today-counterweight-mainstream-media-or-putins-mou Fitzpatrick, Catherine (2010) More Moral Equivalency from Vadim Nikitin: http://3dblogger.typepad.com/minding_russia/2010/04/more-moral-equivalency-from-vadim-nikitin.html Gray, Rosie (2014) How The Truth Is Made At Russia Today: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/how-the-truth-is-made-at-russia-today Ioffe, Julia (2010) What Is Russia Today? http://www.cjr.org/feature/what_is_russia_today.php?page=all Kincaid, Cliff (2011) Russian […]

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Why does Russia want to ban officials from using WhatsApp and Skype?

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Russian legislators are even worried about encrypted communication systems, since IT security experts believe they may contain backdoors to which secret services may have access. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 6, 2016) Russian deputies, ministers and members of the armed forces may soon find they are unable to use popular instant messaging services […]

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RBTH: Medvedev: Global community must work together to regulate internet; The Russian prime minister has urged the international community to act together in addressing global challenges.

File Photo Dmitry Medvedev at Desk with Laptop Computer

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – May 23, 2016) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has emphasized the importance of international cooperation on addressing new global challenges, including regulation of the internet, while admitting that the country has been feeling the pressure of Western sanctions. “Our companies and citizens have been subjected to pressure for two […]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The danger of Russian disinformation” – Washington Post/Anne Applebaum, Edward Lucas

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…authoritarian regimes, led by Russia but closely followed by China, have begun investing heavily in the production of alternatives. Because national media is often weak, it has become far easier for channels such as RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik (a Russian “news” agency) to establish credibility in smaller European markets. … even in larger countries, the Russian use of […]

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Hard Work vs. Magic

Kremlin and River

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Kennan Institute. Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – April 19, 2016) Russian officials still refer to “conditions for doing business” or “quality of governance” when discussing the country’s economic performance. But the lack of gravitas in these conversations is palpable. Russia’s official economic policymakers command an excellent understanding of the country’s economic problems, […]

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The Soviet Adventures Of Steve Jobs

Mac Computer file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – April 1, 2016) In the summer of 1985, a young commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow sat down with two representatives of the California computer company Apple who were visiting the heart of the Soviet empire. One was an “older guy,” the attache, Mike Merin, recalls. The other was “this lanky, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian Trolls; What at first looked like as a social media grudge match could be a precursor to invasion, war, and resistance in the Baltics” – TheDailyBeast.com

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Mindaugas is an unassuming, thirtysomething advertising agency director by day … ferocious cyber-warrior by night. He started a phenomenon … in Lithuania … countering Kremlin propaganda and disinformation …. ‘We needed to call our group something. … we were fighting trolls. … I said, “Let’s be elves.”‘ There were 20 or 30 at first, when the trolls began … leaving […]

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Like, Share, Convict: Russian Authorities Target Social Media Users

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – March 10, 2016) [Chart here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/like-share-convict-russian-authorities-target-social-media-users/562015.html] It was a throwaway comment, forgotten almost the minute it was written. Then again, Viktor Krasnov could hardly have predicted the trouble those three words -“God doesn’t exist” – would cause. He couldn’t have imagined that two VKontakte users would file a formal complaint to the […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct: “How does the Internet fit into Russia’s security strategy? Against the background of continuing confrontation with the West and growing domestic authoritarianism, the Kremlin is continuing on a path of increased state control of the Russian Internet and a significantly expanded view of information security.”

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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Mail.ru Overtakes Yandex as Most Valuable Russian Internet Company

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2016) Russian Internet giant Mail.ru Group has topped a ranking of the most valuable companies operating in the Russian Internet segment for the first time, according to a rating released by the Russian version of Forbes magazine Monday. Mail.ru Group includes the mail.ru portal as well as the Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, […]

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Why did Kadyrov publish ‘revelatory’ report about himself?

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has chosen to make public himself a report that accuses him of creating a quasi-Islamic state within Russia and not obeying Russian laws. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called “A National Security Threat” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Premier Bypasses Ban on File-Sharing Site” – Transitions Online

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Determined users can easily slip past Russia’s strict anti-piracy laws. … Medvedev used his personal iPad to reach the site during a meeting in which measures to combat piracy were under discussion…. the banned file-sharing website RuTracker …. Click here for Transitions Online: Russian Premier Bypasses Ban on File-Sharing Site  

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Putin’s New Internet Czar Wants Apple and Google to Pay More Taxes

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov and Stepan Kravchenko – February 8, 2016) When he’s not checking Gmail on his MacBook, Vladimir Putin’s new Internet czar can’t stop railing against American technology companies. Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., collectively worth more than Russia’s gross domestic product, have all entered German Klimenko’s crosshairs since he was named Putin’s first Internet […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

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Virtual Stalinism

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – February 2, 2016) Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late. One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian […]

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Russians do not want authorities to have access to non-public personal data

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(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Most respondents surveyed by the Public Opinion Foundation (58%) believe the state should not have access to non-public personal data and people’s correspondence on social networking sites and via email, while 24% believe it violates human rights and 22% believe it constitutes privacy invasion and is not ethical. The poll, which surveys 1,000 respondents who […]

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Russia without whom?

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As the Soviet Union collapsed, a generation had just been born. The online journal Russia without us catalogues their struggle to find a place in today’s Russia. Interview. (opendemocracy.net – Andrey Urodov, Maxim Edwards – January 21, 2016) Andrey Urodov is a freelance journalist covering сultural and social issues in Russia. He runs the non-profit Russia without us magazine. Maxim […]

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Netflix’s Desire for World Domination Reaches Russia

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – January 15, 2016) China, the world’s most populous country, might have slipped through its fingers, but with Russia Netflix in January pocketed the largest country by landmass and the promise of tapping into a booming online market. Netflix’s move into Russia, along with 129 other countries, was heralded by its CEO as […]

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Moscow’s 5 most interesting mobile apps for tourists

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Foreign travelers can now get to know Moscow better thanks to some new mobile apps for those that love museums, architecture and even making random new friends in the metro. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Kira Egorova, RBTH – January 18, 2016) Moscow, Russia If digital detox while on holiday is not one of your goals and you […]

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10 facts about the Russian Internet

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

Desktops are beginning to become a thing of the past: In the past year the number of Russian users going on-line from mobile devices has increased by 90 percent. RBTH has sifted some more curious facts about the Internet. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – January 11, 2016) 1. 11.8 million Russian users (14%) go […]

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The Russian government ’embraces’ transparency

Kremlin and River

Russia is finally embracing transparency-so long as it poses no threat to political stability. (opendemocracy.net – Andrei Jvirblis – December 18, 2015) Andrei Jvirblis is a Moscow-based journalist and head of Transparency International Russia’s Public Activism group. As the response of Russia’s Prosecutor General to accusations of graft this week shows, nothing gets Russian public officials angrier than journalists rooting […]

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Youtube Unveils Russia’s Most Popular Music Videos of 2015

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katrin Scheib – December 11, 2015) [Links to the videos here themoscowtimes.com/news/article/youtube-unveils-russias-most-popular-music-videos-of-2015/552545.html] The stats are in: Youtube has released a list of the music videos that were most popular in Russia in 2015. Some of them were meant to be funny, others just are, and they are all worth watching. So dig out your headphones, […]

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The Year Of The Troll

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 10, 2015) For much of the year, Russian bombers, warships, and submarines played chicken with NATO with provocative incursions into member states’ sea and airspace. And as the year drew to a close, Moscow finally got burned when Turkey’s air force shot down a Su-24 warplane. The incident, which has led to […]

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Peskov: No restrictions for [quick data] messengers planned

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – December 9, 2015) The Kremlin said that no restrictions for the quick data transmission systems, the so-called messengers, are planned to introduce. “I am aware that the issue is really being worked on, but not in the aspect of restrictions. As far as I am concerned, there are no restrictions there, but the issue is being worked on, […]

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Inoculated Against Russian Propaganda

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – December 4, 2015) Immediately following the harrowing terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, Russian pro-Kremlin media adjusted their rhetoric, abandoning their previous anti-Western and anti-U.S. vitriol even before the Kremlin spoke of a broad military alliance. “A listener called Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station … and said that Americans are not our […]

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Russians Turn to Bartering in Economic Recession

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – December 2, 2015) An economic recession and soaring grocery prices have prompted Russians to go online to trade household items for food, with scores of websites facilitating a barter system cropping up around the country. Russia’s main social network, VKontakte, has an array of online groups, targeting various cities, where local inhabitants […]

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Confession of a Russian internet provider: A firsthand account of how the internet is monitored, regulated and blocked in the Russian Federation

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(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Okrest – November 5, 2015) Dmitry Okrest is a former staff writer with The New Times and currently works as an independent journalist. The internet is no longer free in Russia-that’s according to Freedom Net, a report recently published by Freedom House. Freedom of expression on the internet has been under threat for some time in the […]

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Foreign IT Companies Threaten to Quit Russia Over Restrictive Legislation

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – November 3, 2015) Major foreign IT companies could suspend their investment in Russia or withdraw from the country altogether over restrictions in the Russian market, the Kommersant newspaper reported Monday. These restrictions include a Russian law that obliges state agencies to justify the purchases of foreign software from Jan. 1, 2016, as […]

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RBTH: Instant messaging apps: Social resource or security threat?

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Is tighter government regulation of instant messaging apps using encryption really needed? Where is the line between user friendliness and national security threat? Internet expert Anton Merkurov reflects upon the matters for RBTH. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anton Merkurov is an internet expert and representative of Open Garden, the developer behind FireChat – October 15, 2015) While […]

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Online reading of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ to be open to all; Any Russian speakers can apply to take part in December event

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Krasnov, RBTH – October 12, 2015) Anyone on the planet who speaks Russian will be able to read a chapter from Russian writer Lev Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace directly online as part of an upcoming event The “War and Peace: Let’s Read The Novel” event will take place between Dec. 8 […]

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What’s That Line of Poetry Again? Just Yandex It

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jordan Reed – September 15, 2015) The Russian Internet giant Yandex put its literary research hat on to conduct a far-reaching survey into the habits of Russians who search for poets and their works online. After analyzing the 37 million Yandex searches related to poetry over the period of one year, April 2014 to March […]

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Russia’s New Personal Data Law Will Be Hard to Implement, Experts Say

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – September 3, 2015) In a streak of measures designed to impose stricter control over the Internet in Russia, the law that requires all Internet services store the personal data of Russian users on Russian territory – in effect from Tuesday – will be the most difficult to implement due to its vagueness […]

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Report With Tally Of ‘Russian War Casualties’ Causes Stir

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – August 26, 2015) A Russian-language website has caused a stir with a report asserting that more than 2,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Delovaya Zhizn, which translates as Business Life, published the information online in March, as part of a larger story of how the Russian federal […]

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[Nataliya Vasilyeva (AP Moscow correspondent) tweets re: reports on Russian casualties in Ukraine]

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

[DJ: Nataliya Vasilyeva (AP Moscow correspondent) tweets: 2 day of Western officials retweeting a Forbes report quoting a Ukrainian web-site quoting a non-existent Russia news web-site re Ukraine. The main problem here is, of course, where was the Forbes online editor when the story was published, why nobody bothered to check sources? The ease of spreading rumors in the digital […]

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By Blocking Wikipedia, Russian Government Shows its Power Over Web

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – August 26, 2015) After blocking a Wikipedia article for less than than 18 hours, the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor removed it from a list of banned webpages on Tuesday in a move that reflects the power the Russian state wields over the Internet, pundits told The Moscow Times. At the end of […]

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RBTH: Why Russians support Internet censorship

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According to a joint report by American researchers and Russian sociologists, 49 percent of Russians are not opposed to Internet censorship. They do not perceive attempts to control the Internet as an infringement on the freedom of speech, experts explain. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – August 22, 2015) Nearly half of Russians (49 percent) […]

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