Confessions of a Kremlin conspiracy theorist; Let’s face it: movements inside Russia’s power structures often signal exactly what we want them to.

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – August 1, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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What Russia’s New Draconian Data Laws Mean for Users

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(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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Protecting Russia’s Culture Of Terror

FSB Building file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 30, 2016) How an autocratic regime chooses to prosecute its dissidents can be very revealing. Consider the case of performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky, who was arrested in November for setting fire to the entranceway to Lubyanka, the infamous headquarters of the Federal Security Service in Moscow. By targeting the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Federal Security Service board

FSB Building file photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 26, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board to review the results of the Service’s work in 2015 and set its priority tasks for 2016. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, We are here today to review the results of the Federal Security Service’s work in 2015 and […]

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‘Why Didn’t You Run?’ – The Inside Story on the Arrest of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – February 25, 2016) On the morning of Feb. 18, Dmitry Kamenshchik, Russia’s 27th-richest tycoon, packed a backpack with some spare clothes, a toothbrush, and shoes without laces – the essentials for a stint in prison. The billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was unemotional, says his lawyer. Ten days earlier, three current […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with Euronews TV channel

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(Government.ru – February 14, 2016) The Prime Minister spoke with Global Conversation presenter Isabelle Kumar on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Question: Mr Prime Minister, thank you for joining the Global Conversation. The Syrian issue is a priority; it dominates the international agenda. It is now believed that we are approaching a turning point, although it remains to […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Litvinenko’s poisoning fits into Putin’s power play. Everything Vladimir Putin has done to reassert Russian power has seemed farfetched, outlandish and inconceivable-until he did it” – Maclean’s (Canada)/Michael Petrou

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

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Half of Russians don’t trust conclusions made by British in Litvinenko case

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(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Over half of Russians (53%) believe the London court had no real grounds to accuse Russian officials of involvement in the death of former Federal Security Service official Alexander Litvinenko, Levada Center has reported. The poll, which surveys 1,600 respondents, was conducted in 137 populated areas of 48 regions of Russia on Jan. 22-25. The […]

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Antony Penaud: Reflections on the Litvinenko case

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Subject: Reflections on the Litvinenko case Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2016 From: Antony Penaud <antonypenaud@yahoo.fr> Antony Penaud completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2000. His essays on Russia and Ukraine are on www/scribd.com/antonykharms. He is French and lives in London. I returned last Thursday from a holiday in Moscow, and on the Gatwick train I picked up […]

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NEWSLINK The Independent (UK): “Alexander Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile four months before he was poisoned”

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NEWSLINK: “So Putin Killed Litvinenko. Carry On. Britain has been cozying up to Russian money for years, and a dead spy isn’t going to change that.” – Foreign Policy magazine/Peter Pomersantsev

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British Inquiry Implicates Russia, Putin In Death Of Ex-Agent Litvinenko

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 21, 2016) A British inquiry has concluded that the Russian government was behind the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko and that President Vladimir Putin “probably approved” the killing. The findings, issued on January 21, said that there is a “strong probability” that it was carried out by Russian citizens Dmitry […]

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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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Russian Academia Divided Over FSB Vetting of Research Papers

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – October 22, 2015) A report this week of research papers and scientific articles becoming subject to vetting by the Federal Security Service (FSB) before publication rattled Russian academics, coming on the heels of several cases in which people have been accused of espionage and treason in connection with their professional activities. The […]

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Knocking back Russia’s nationalists

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The conflict in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea has brought the Kremlin and Russia’s ultra-nationalists closer together. Recent prosecutions show that their ideas still have the government worried. (opendemocracy.net – Vyacheslav Koslov – September 15, 2015) Vyacheslav Kozlov is a journalist for daily newspaper Kommersant. He writes on international relations, nationalism, extremism, narco-politics, the Russian opposition and the problems […]

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Crimea Is Now Putin’s Problem Child; Russian security services are cracking down on alleged corruption in the newly annexed peninsula

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – July 24, 2015) President Vladimir Putin likened Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea to a family welcoming home a long-lost relative. Now the family is showing signs of strain. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, has opened criminal investigations of three high-ranking Crimean government officials, accusing them of graft and other misdeeds. Four regional […]

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Attack on Chubais Ally Marks Death of Russian Meritocracy – Experts

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 4, 2015) The criminal case opened this week against Leonid Melamed, the founder of Russia’s flagship innovations project, is directed against its divisive current head Anatoly Chubais, and reflects Russia’s drift away from a merit-based ruling elite, pundits told The Moscow Times on Friday. Rusnano’s reformist head Chubais has long been […]

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The Faltering Russian Economy Makes a Renewed Ukraine Offensive More Likely

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

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 12, Issue 73 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev) “Boring” is perhaps the prevalent impression of President Vladimir Putin’s televised four-hour-long Q & A session that aired last Thursday (April 16), which was meant to demonstrate his good health and relaxed attitude to the great many problems worrying his loyal subjects. The three […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Vladimir Putin’s formative German years

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

[“Vladimir Putin’s formative German years” – BBC News – Chris Bowlby – Dresden, March 27, 2015] The BBC covers some of Vladimir Putin’s experiences earlier in life, including his first foreign posting as a KGB officer, in East Germany during the collapse of Soviet Communism in eastern Europe. They also explore speculation about the lasting impact of those experiences upon Putin’s perspective towards […]

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Putin Urges FSB: Harder, Faster, Stronger

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 27, 2015) Western governments will attempt to discredit and destabilize Russia, but their efforts will be futile, President Vladimir Putin told Russia’s top security officials Thursday. “We have always had and always will have a proper response to all internal and external threats to national security,” Putin told senior officers of the […]

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Putin marks 15 years in power with harangue against West

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – March 27, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 26 marked 15 years since he was elected as Boris Yeltsin’s successor by summoning the heads of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and warning them sternly that there was a western conspiracy to undermine and contain Russia. Putin struck a dark […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New evidence sheds doubt on ‘Islamic’ motive in Nemtsov killing

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Experts say that conflict between Russia’s security services and the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, likely played a role in the murder. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 12, 2015) New details in the Feb. 27 murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have cast doubt on the claim of the investigators that Nemtsov was […]

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FSB-Kadyrov Power Struggle Eclipsing Nemtsov Murder Probe, Media Says

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – March 11, 2015) Russian media has reported that the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov is suffering under a power struggle between President Vladimir Putin’s protege Ramzan Kadyrov and the FSB. The claim that Nemtsov was shot dead by a devout Muslim who reportedly felt insulted by the politician’s support for […]

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How to Become a Russian Spy

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 3, 2014) When a young Vladimir Putin decided to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a spy, he headed to the local branch of the KGB in Soviet Leningrad. Wary of unsolicited applicants, the KGB officers turned Putin away, but not without some valuable advice: Go get an education, preferably in […]

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What the FSB is doing in Russian universities

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(opendemocracy.net – ALEKSANDR CHORNYKH – September 2, 2014) Aleksandr Chornykh writes for the Russian newspaper Kommersant. He specialises on education in Russia, and is one of the leading experts in his field. In Soviet times, the KGB kept a close watch on intellectuals – they might turn out to be dissidents. Today, the FSB still skulks on university corridors… In the Soviet […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia Deploys Mobile Border Guard Teams to Border With Ukraine – FSB

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has deployed mobile teams of border guards to the vicinity of the border with Ukraine, but they are to operate strictly on the Russian side, a spokesman for Russia’s FSB Border Guard Service said Friday. The spokesman said that residents of the border territories are under threat due to increased numbers of Ukrainian […]

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Interfax: Russian official hopes Ukraine crisis will not end security cooperation with USA

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

(Interfax – June 17, 2014) First deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Sergey Smirnov, has expressed hope that the events in Ukraine will not disrupt cooperation between the Russian and US security services, privately-owned news agency Interfax reported on 17 June. “We have always been cooperating, though sometimes, when some events are taking place, cooperation calms down. We […]

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Is Putin at Risk of Being Overthrown by a Coup?

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, April 28, 2014) Many in Russia and the West have speculated that the combination of Vladimir Putin’s policies against Ukraine, Moscow’s increasing isolation internationally, and deteriorating economic conditions at home will eventually lead to a Maidan-style challenge to his rule. That is possible, of course, but a man identified as a former […]

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Obituary: Who Was Doku Umarov?

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Antoine Blua – April 8, 2014) Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has “neutralized” the activities of Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov. The April 8 announcement stops short of a full confirmation of Umarov’s death, but it comes one month after a website close to Russian Islamist militants, Kavkaz Center, said Umarov had “become a martyr.” Considered the leader […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Federal Security Service board

(Kremlin.ru – April 7, 2014) Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service board. The meeting reviewed the results of the FSB’s activities in 2013 and set the priorities for 2014. —– PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, At this expanded meeting today, we will discuss the Federal Security Service’s results over the recent […]

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Interfax: Moscow commission rules not to reinstall monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanskaya Square

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) – The Moscow City Duma’s monumental art commission unanimously decided on Tuesday not to return a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, a prominent Soviet statesman and founder of the Soviet security services, to Lubyanskaya Square in central Moscow. “Taking into account the current circumstances in society, I propose refraining from returning the monument. This is more of […]

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U.S. Congressman Alleges Snowden May Have Worked With FSB

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 20, 2014) The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees will investigate suspicions that intelligence leaker Edward Snowden might have already been in touch with Russian security services while working as a defense contractor on U.S. soil, the committees’ leaders said. Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and head […]

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Duma considers expanding security agencies’ surveillance tactics on the web

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – January 17, 2014) Russian MPs want to step up counterterrorism measures to include more control over what the Internet. The powers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) will be expanded, electronic payments in the Russian segment of the Internet will come under stricter regulations and, overall, state control […]

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Ex-MP Glushchenko will be charged with Galina Starovoitova’s murder – lawyer

Russian Duma Building

ST. PETERSBURG. Nov 7 (Interfax) – Investigators are preparing to charge former Russian parliamentarian Mikhail Glushchenko with masterminding the assassination of State Duma member Galina Starovoitova in 1998, Glushchenko’s lawyer Alexander Afanasyev told Interfax on Thursday. “Both defense lawyers representing Mikhail Ivanovich [Glushchenko] were officially notified that at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow he will be charged under Part 3 of Article […]

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FSB wants to record Internet communications

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yaroslava Kiryukhina, RBTH – October 23, 2013) Just several months after granting temporary asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russia prepares to implement electronic surveillance that looks similar to the infamous PRISM. But is it actually the same? Russia’s Communications Ministry has drafted an order that would require Internet providers to install monitoring […]

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Russian MPs Downplay New Internet Surveillance Plans, Activist Alarmed

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

(RIA Novosti – October 21, 2013) Russian State Duma MPs have downplayed the significance of the Communications Ministry’s draft decree requiring internet service providers to install equipment for storing internet traffic and sharing it with the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russian news agencies reported on 21 October. The Russian heavyweight liberal newspaper Kommersant reported earlier on the same day that […]

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Russian Telecoms Giant Slams New Surveillance Powers – Paper

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 21, 2013) A Russian telecommunications giant has slammed government plans to give security services complete access to all Internet traffic by the middle of 2014, calling them unconstitutional, Kommersant newspaper reported Monday. The daily cited a letter submitted by mobile operator Vimpelcom to the Press and Communications Ministry as saying the proposed legislation violated fundamental […]

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Special services not able to access Internet traffic without court ruling – Communications Ministry

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(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 21, 2013) The Communications Ministry’s draft decree on the special services’ access to Internet traffic is not a novelty and does not contradict Russian legislation,” the ministry press service told Interfax on Monday. “This decree is not new. Besides, it doesn’t regulate the procedure governing the provision of Internet users’ data to the special services,” the […]

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Russian rights watchdog head queries security service anonymous tip-off proposal

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

(Interfax – August 21, 2013) A proposal that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) should react to anonymous tip-offs could lead to an increase in such messages and would in practice duplicate work done by the police, Tatyana Lokshina, head of Human Rights Watch’s Moscow bureau, told Interfax news agency on 21 August.(1) On the same day, government-owned Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya […]

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Investigation into State Duma deputy Starovoitova’s murder reopened – aide

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – ST. PETERSBURG. Aug 6, 2013) The Federal Security Service (FSB) department for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region has reopened an investigation into the 1998 assassination of State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova, Ruslan Linkov, Starovoitova’s former aide, told Interfax on Tuesday. “The investigation was reopened on August 1. It was done because certain investigative procedures can be conducted […]

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Let’s Say “No” to the Erosion of the Constitution

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Ekaterina Mishina – July 29, 2013) Russia’s leading legal experts have published an open address in which they detail the threats to the country’s constitutional order. IMR Advisor Ekaterina Mishina, a co-signatory of the address, emphasizes that, for the lawyers, to point out the dangers of the current situation is a professional, civic, […]

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Russian Intelligence Intends to Gag Snowden and Keep Him in Russia

Edward Snowden file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 132 – Pavel Felgenhauer – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – July 18, 2013) Edward Snowden, the contractor who worked as a systems administrator at a US National Security Agency (NSA) facility in Hawaii, arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23, apparently planning to fly to Havana the next day, but has stayed […]

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Russian Security Services Hunt Culprits in Railroad CEO Hoax

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 20, 2013) ­ The hunt is on to find those behind hoax claims that the CEO of Russia’s railroad monopoly had been dismissed, which caused a flurry of confusion in the Russian media. On Wednesday evening, Russian news outlets received a press statement saying that Vladimir Yakunin had been dismissed as head of Russian Railways […]

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PRISM and SORM: Big Brother is watching

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Kristen Blyth – June 17, 2013) George Orwell’s “1984” was, when it was published, purely a work of fiction. “There was, of course, no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment,” Orwell wrote. “You had to live in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in […]

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