Putin Knifes the Infant RuNet
If we were talking international basketball scores, those would be good numbers for Russia. But we’re not. We’re talking Internet freedom, as analyzed by Freedom House. The higher the score, the less the freedom.
FH reviewed Internet access among a group of 37 countries around the world, and found that Georgia ranks #12 in the group, in the top third and right behind South Korea, while Russia ranks #22, right behind Rwanda and well into the bottom half of all countries surveyed. In the group of nations designated by FH as “partly free” only four have lower scores than Russia (including Egypt at 54 and Pakistan at 55). The USA’s score is 13, surpassed in the group only by Estonia.
Twice as many Russian bloggers were arrested in the most recent survey period compared to the last one. Russia’s rank fell three places since the prior survey, and its score got much worse, from 49 in 2009 to 52 in 2011.
If course, it may not matter much how free or unfree Russia’s Internet is, because according to FH two-thirds of the Russian population has no Internet access at all.
But still, one can’t help but be impressed at the incredible freedom allowed in Georgia by a man, Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been demonized as a malignant dictator by Russian propaganda. In fact, judging by Internet freedom, it’s Russia that lives under ever-increasing dictatorship.
That Georgia’s Internet is roughly twice as free as Russia’s speaks volumes for the legitimacy of the two countries’ rulers. Putin is a scared little rat, hiding in dark places and struggling to silence his critics, because he knows their damning criticism can bring him down. Saakashvili is a fearless lion, unafraid of Internet attacks because he knows his record is more than good enough to win him reelection.
In another one of his ridiculous, mendacious propaganda diatribes in favor of Vladimir Putin in a recent issue of the The Moscow Times, Vladimir Frolov attempts to suggest that Putin and Medvedev are just like Coke and Pepsi, two different but essentially identical forms of progress for Russia, and that choosing between them offers Russia “a healthy debate the country needs.” Even if Frolov weren’t lying, it is impossible for a nation to have a “healthy debate” when (a) Medvedev and Putin don’t actually debate and (b) the country has no base of information upon which to analyze their statements. Therefore, the notion that Russians could make any type of informed choice even if they were going to be allowed to make one is pure nonsense.
In another editorial in today’s issue, we document the appalling backwards state of Russian education. Russia’s Internet is a reflection of the ignorance generated by it’s woeful education level. The vast majority of Russians have no access to the Internet as a way of getting around the morons and the propaganda and the corruption that dominate the educational system, and the small faction who can access the Internet do so in constant fear of harassment and facing aggressive moves to limit content.
We are saddened and disappointed by the shameful manner in which the citizens of Russia blithely accept this fate, condemning their children to a neo-Soviet world that can only end in failure just like that of the USSR.