The Kremlin Wants to Control the Blogosphere
Posted on October 28, 2007
The Washington Post reports the Kremlin is seeking more control and influence on the Internets and in the blogosphere. The big downside of the Kremlin seeking to influence cyberspace is that they will pollute it with a one-sided pro-Kremlin point of view.
In a lengthy article published online last fall, three Russian rights activists argued that a strident, vulgar and uniform pro-Kremlin ideology had so permeated blogs and chat rooms that it could only be the result of a coordinated campaign.Kremlin allies are also buying up media website and blog portals.
Putin's allies in the online world acknowledge that the Internet represents a challenge to the status quo in Russia, which has, since Soviet times, relied on state-controlled television to influence public opinion across the country's 11 time zones.
Allies of the Kremlin have also begun buying some of the companies that have helped make the Internet a bastion of free expression in Russia. Gazeta.ru, long the country's most respected online newspaper, was sold in December to a metals magnate and Putin loyalist.The Washington Post article also mentions the possibility that Russia is considering its own seperate Internet and that they are studying how China's government censors ideas in cyberspace.
And last October, Sup, which is owned by Alexander Mamut, a tycoon with ties to the Kremlin, bought the rights to develop the Russian-language segment of U.S.-based LiveJournal. The segment, with half a million users, is Russia's most popular blog portal.
"Mr. Rykov is pro-Kremlin. Mamut and Sup are pro-Kremlin. The social networks are all being bought by pro-Kremlin people," Ruslan Paushu, 30, a popular blogger who works for Rykov, said in an interview. "Everything's okay."
Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, special adviser to the chairmen of the Internet Governance Forum, a group convened by the United Nations, said some Russian officials he has spoken to are considering a separate Internet, with Cyrillic domain names, and appear to be studying China's Internet controls.It's obviously fine to have government websites (like kremlin.ru) explaining the government's positions but it is scary if the government is buying up web media properties and considering all kinds of nefarious methods in order to control cyberspace.