EDITORIAL: Russia’s Barbaric “Internet”


Russia’s Barbaric “Internet”

Whenever the subject of the Kremlin’s brutal neo-Soviet crackdown on Russian newspapers and television comes up, as it has just done once again with the barbaric killing of Natalia Estemirova, the bleating refrain from the Russophile apologists is is always the same:  But there’s the Internet! It’s perfectly free, and it’s all Russians need to preserve democracy.

It’s another ridiculous neo-Soviet lie, of course.  In the first place, 80% of Russians have no access to the Internet, so even if it were full of critical information about the Kremlin, theycouldn’t read it.  In the second place, the Kremlin is in the process of cracking down on the Internet too, prosecuting bloggers and even commenters, shutting down websites and deluging others with threats and intimidation.

As to the “Internet” that survives, it’s a wasteland of ignorance that reflects Russia itself, and only the fact that it’s written inRussian prevents certain naive foreigners from understanding that fact.  To the rescue, however, came recently Harvard University’s Internet & Democracy blog, with a post showing how the Russian blogosphere utterly ignored U.S. President Obama’s recent visit to Moscow, just as the Kremlin wanted it to do.

Here are the horrifying facts:

Russian bloggers gave more attention to Obama’s trip to Moscow than Russian TV, but not much more. According to “Yandex blogs”, Obama’s visit to Moscow was not among the day’s top 3 blog topics, which instead include Google’s new operating system, juvenile justice in Russia and a subway machinist who fell off the train.

Obama’s visit appears at #11 in the “additional topics” column, which also contains references to the G8 summit in Italy, a Beer and Kvas festival, Newsweek’s list of top 10 books in the world, and the visit by Patriarch Cyril to the Ukraine.

A search among the posts of the top four bloggers in Russia found virtually no mention of Obama’s visit, although Live Journal blogger “drugoi”, whose photoblog is the most popular on RuNet, has a brief post on the superiority of White House press photography over that of the Kremlin.

Yikes.  Is this kind of “coverage” that Russophiles think is going to save Russian democracy? Not likely.

In fact, even the tiny fraction of Russians who are able to go online do not have access to real information, not unless they are fluent in a foreign language and willing to actively search it out. That disquailfies virtually the entire country.  And beyond the Internet, there simply is no real information at all.  Russians were not even allowed to watch Barack Obama deliver a speech in their country, even though he wanted to “reset” and improve relations. The Kremlin censored him from all the national TV networks.

Russia is, as we’ve said for years now, a neo-Soviet state.  It’s people live in blindness, but his time nobody can claim they are victims. They have embraced rule by the KGB, and the blindness that results is totally predictable.

The people of Russia have only themselves to blame for the brutal future that awaits them.

17 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia’s Barbaric “Internet”

  1. I have noticed that the American TV and internet also have paid little attention to Obama’s visit to Russia. I myself also found this trip quite uneventful.

    Yikes. I guess this makes us Americans “barbaric” too, eh? :-)

    On the other hand, if the inattention to foreign visitors is the Russian “crime” worth writing an editorial about – then Russia must be not all that bad. Yikes.


    Are you out of your freakin’ mind? It was covered wall-to-wall, 24/7. Obama is seriously attacked every single day. In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer said he sold out US nuclear security. Obviously you get your information from Russian sources, you illiterate ape. You stupidity is an embarassment to Russia, and you need to stop posting several comments in succession. Stop or you will be banned from all commenting.

    • “Are you out of your freakin’ mind? […] Obama is seriously attacked every single day. In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer said he sold out US nuclear security.”

      So, what’s your point? That Obama wasn’t attacked in Russia as much as he was in USA? Or that, symmetrically, some Ivan Krauthammerov didn’t write in Kommersant or Izvestia that Medvedev sold out Russian nuclear security?

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more,LR, both with the editorial and your comment.

  3. I’m sick of repeating how disgusted I am with the vast majority of Russians. But, then, it’s really my expectations and assumptions that were flawed.

    Holding Russians to western standards of what we understand as a civil society is a fruitless exercise. Subtract the tiny core of human rights advocates and their very small following, scratch the surface, and there is nothing that would change Putin as the natural heir.

    That most Russians with access use the internet for trivial fluff which is easy to track by blog topics and number of views underscores that Putin’s lurch into the same old Soviet totalitarian state isn’t bothering most Russians. I refuse to believe that they are unaware of it. The censored media is not a valid excuse. It’s nothing new to Russians. They have more ways around if they care.

    If the EU and US can facilitate the end to the flagrant murders, Khodorkovsky’s repulsive show trail along with reversals for other Yukos legal victims and demand contract laws be upheld and leave their neighbors alone that’s as good as it gets.

  4. “Russians who are able to go online do not have access to real information”

    In other words, you are now claiming that the group sites that you yourself advertise on the right, like http://www.oborona.org/ and http://www.nemtsov.ru/, do not provide real information? How about various Ukrainian news sites?

    How about thousands of other anti-Putin sites in Russian, e.g, those by Valeria Novodvrokaya’s and Yulia Tymoshenko’s, as well as http://www.svobodanews.ru and even Kavkaz Center? Not only can Russians read the news site of Radio Freedom, operated by the CIA, but Muscovites can listen to this station 24 hours per day on their car radio while driving on 1044 AM. Can Americans listen to FSB-operated AM/FM radio? How about any foreign-operated radio at all?

    Or they can listen to Echo of Moscow –the Number One radio station/network in Russia, being 3 times more popular than its closest competitor. In fact, it is one of the 4 most popular media of all, along with the Channel One TV network and the newspapers Kommersant (founded by Berezovsky) and Vedomosti (founded by Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal). The list of Echo of Moscow radio hosts includes the who-is-who of Russian democracy: Yulia Latynina, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Evgeny Kiselev, Viktor Shenderovich, Natella Boltyanskaya, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Alexey Veneidiktov, Sofiko Shevardnadze, Maria Gaidar, Evgenia Albatz; and weekly and/or frequent guest commentators include: Valeria Novodvorskaya, Alexandr Minkin, Leonid Radzikhovsky, Eduard Limonov, Leonid Mlechin, Dmitry Muratov, Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov.

  5. I read just two sentences of the russophile commentator just above and want to say that it’s pity that too many modern Russians don’t understand what is meant by free access to information, what is news and what is opinion, what they have in common and they don’t have in common and how important for society to have access to them all.

    • This does not matter to them also:

      MOSCOW – A provincial Russian human rights group says authorities have raided its office and confiscated computers in a fresh blow to Russia’s beleaguered rights movement.

      The police raid on the group in Kazan reportedly occurred Monday, the capital of Tatarstan, days after the slaying of a rights activist in Chechnya.

      Andrei Suchkov of the Kazan Human Rights Center said Tuesday employees were locked in until late at night.

      He said 10 officers entered claiming to be investigating tax irregularities. But he linked the raid to a probe by the group into alleged rights violations by Kazan police.

      Police in Kazan declined immediate comment.

      The body of Natalya Estemirova, a prominent activist in Chechnya, was found in neighboring Ingushetia last week.


  6. Estland,

    I often visit both Batlics and Moscow, and can assure you that Russians have access to more negative information about their own government than do Balts, especially with the Echo of Moscow and the CIA-owned Radio Liberty blaring in their cars.

    On the other hand, few Estonians are aware that their own Prime Minister Andrus Ansip used to be a Stalinist hardliner Soviet official in Tartu, who sent dogs to attack a peaceful pro-independence student demonstration in February 1988.

  7. “In the first place, 80% of Russians have no access to the Internet…” – may be… in 1998. Free Wifi at any public places. In Omsk (Siberia) internet at home about 11$ month. So this article: bla-bla-bla!


    We grow weary of your childish lies. Your illiterate ape-like brain does not even try to substantiate them with source material, making you look like a classic Russian moron. We’ve documented Russian internet access statistics many times:




    Please stop lying or at least try to do it a little better. You make Russia look like a nation of mindless beasts.

  8. > We’ve documented Russian internet access statistics many times

    Yes, but everything is relative. Here is what the Freedom House says:


    Internet Users/Penetration 2008:

    Russia: 21 percent
    Georgia: 9 percent


    Internet access connections in Russia to more than double by 2011, says IDC

    IDC – November 12, 2007
    The total number of fixed Internet connections in Russia is expected to reach 16.6 million in 2011, more than doubling the number of connections at the end of 2006, which stood at 7.3 million… Moscow enjoys the highest Internet penetration of major Russian cities and regions at an estimated 42% of households connected in 2006.


    Brazil, Russia, India and China to Lead Internet Growth Through 2011

    • But Phobophobe,

      Georgia is a poorer country that makes no pretentions to being a superpower.

      Russia does.

      Russia also seems to think that a free and democratic Georgia is a threat to the entire Russian federation, which gives you an idea of the stupidity of the average Russian.

      • You are missing the point here. We are not talking about wealth or country size. We are talking about access to ani-government information. And for average Georgians, it is much harder to get such information than for average Russians.

    • This does not say much for moscow when New York City has Internet Users/Penetration 2008: 99.9%

  9. Not really.

    Georgians have access to a wide range of local, european, and western TV and print media.

    Unlike Russia, the there is a wide range of available journalism from pro to anti government viewpoints on both TV and newspapers.

    Russian TV on the other hand is rediculously pro kremlin pretty much without exception.

    Another thing that may skew the figures somewhat is that in apartment blocks one person will get the broadband connection and network with the nieghbours, this is still only listed as one person having the internet but it means that up to 8 households or so on average have access per connection.

    I am not sure if the same thing happens in Russia, unless of course the traditional Russian selfishness gets in the way.

    • “Georgians have access to a wide range of european, and western TV and print media.”

      LOL. Name me any “european or western” medium that is in Georgian.
      And if you are talking about English language, then Russians have the same access to the same european and western media as do Georgians. CNN, BBC, Eurovision etc are on every TV cable and satellite service. Moreover, Eurovision broadcasts in Russian, but there is no Georgian-language version.

      As far as local media goes, you gotta be kidding! Here is what Saakshvili did to the only independent TV station in Georgia:


      Georgia: Sozar Subari demands to initiate a case on the fact of pogrom at “Imedi”

      Sozar Subari, Ombudsman of Georgia, has informed today that he demands to initiate a criminal case on the fact of pogrom of the oppositional Imedi TV Company… According to Sozar Subari who also examined the studio, “the TV Company is in an awful condition – most of the equipment was destroyed, including video cameras, monitors, microphones and so on. In general, quite a lot of things disappeared.”
      Saakashvili’s Longtime Ally Becomes Head of Imedi TV, Radio
      Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 Jul.’09
      Giorgi Arveladze, a longtime close ally of President Saakashvili and former government member, has become general director of Georgia Media Production Group (GMPG), a holding uniting Imedi television and radio stations.

      • Oh I don’t know, Maestro is actually the main anti-government TV channel here in Georgia, along with Caucasia TV.

        Maybe you should do some more research.

        You can get Georgian translations of Wall St Journal, the Times, and several other western newspapers here (this is still a growth market for print media)

  10. “I am not sure if the same thing happens in Russia”

    Of course the same thing happens in Russia. All ex-Soviets, except Balts, are great at cheating the “authorities” like cable and internet providers.

    Which means that you should notify LR that her estimates about internet penetration in Russia are wrong.

    And speaking of internet penetration, who neeeds a land line? All you need is to buy internet pay cards to use them for an over the phone line connevtion. It is slow but works. These cards come in all denominations from $5 to $50 and are sold in every store and kiosk. That’s what I did.

    Are people, who use these cards, properly accounted for in the statistics?

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