Information Warfare: Do It For The Children

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April 20, 2013: As expected, a new Russian law allowing the government to block Internet traffic considered (by government censors) to be a danger to children is being used to block foreign criticism of the Russian government and the growing use of police state practices.

Increasingly over the last five years Russians have held large street demonstrations in major cities, demanding more freedom and democracy (like direct election of provincial governors, rather than having them appointed by the federal government). The government has been energetic in trying to stop these public expressions of opposition. But the majority of Russians appear to back the government, which has exploited the Russian preference for security (financial and physical) over political and economic freedoms.

The man mainly responsible for the return to Soviet era totalitarian rule is Vladimir Putin, a former secret police official who went to work for the new democratic government in the 1990s, and got elected president in 2000 (and reelected in 2004 and 2012). He reduced crime and corruption and got the economy going. With more GDP to tax, Putin got government services (especially pensions for elderly Russians, who all worked for the state during the Soviet period) restored. Putin came across as strong, decisive, and just. This was the popular perception of what the ideal Russian ruler should be.

Much to the dismay of the West (and pro-democracy Russians), there was relatively little dissent as Putin turned Russia into what can best be described as an "authoritarian democracy."

Putin followed the rules if he could not change them. The constitution limited him to two terms, so he ran for parliament after he left the presidency in 2008, and served as prime minister for four years until he could run for president again.

Putin has noted how troublesome Internet activity can be. Over the last few years the government has been pushing Internet censorship almost as aggressively as China. This is done mainly to cripple the Russian Internet community that has taken the lead in spotlighting corruption and government inefficiency. This censorship campaign is all for the children, of course.

 


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