Authoritarian control of the Internet
11.09.05 | Sergey Vorobyov
We have already obtained the data on the program of control of the Russian segment of the Internet-space by special services. Yet, now we have the information about the attempts of creation of such program on the scale of the entire CIS! We say about the creation, on the basis of the Russian program of the Internet-control “SORM-2”, of a center of electronic struggle with the “orange plague” and independent information sources in a number of countries of the former USSR. This program would concern not only Russia, but also Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
According to the information obtained from our source close to the Ministry of Interior of Russian Federation, recently special services of these countries have concluded a secret informal agreement on struggle with political opposition on the territory of the former USSR.
Along with the control over the electronic mass media and independent Internet-sites, special services of the above-mentioned countries undertook to trace the lists and addresses of the oppositional Internet users, who could arouse the suspicion of national security organs.
One of the most important items of the inter-governmental agreement is permanent exchange of such information between special services for termination of the practice of independent Internet-broadcasting from the territory of the third countries of the CIS (for instance, creation of obstacles in work, or even closure, on the Russian territory of the Internet-sites oppositional to Lukashenkos regime).
In fact, the matter concerns the attempt to plug up with censorship the entire segment of electronic mass media in five countries of the former USSR, where governments, for various reasons, are afraid of repetition in their countries of the revolutionary events, which have already resulted in overthrow of governing regimes in Georgia, Ukraine and Kirhgizia.
Therefore, along with the informational “purge” of the Internet-space by hacker attacks against the independent sites irritating the authorities (as it regularly happens, for example, with the site “Kavkaz-tsentr”), the international agreement also envisages more serious measures for influencing the situation.
In principle, this agreement between the special services also provides the possibility of starting the direct “witch-hunting” in the CIS in the framework of struggle with the Internet-opposition.
Let us assume that some Uzbek oppositionist, who escaped to Russia from Karimovs regime, opened there his site and enthusiastically defames the President of Uzbekistan, friendly to Kremlin. Moreover, this “malicious betrayer of his people” also propagandizes on his site some pro-Western (or even pro-American) democratic values, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of assemblies and other rights of his compatriots!
Naturally, such oppositionist deserves not only closure of his site in the Internet, but the secret arrest on the Russian territory and conveyance (in a bag!) to the friendly Uzbekistan.
This very scenario was applied this spring by Russian special services to a leader of the Tajik opposition, who was hiding near Moscow from persecutions in his native country and dared to open his site in the Russian segment of the Internet.
In this concrete case officers of the FSS of Russia secretly detained this political figure, secretly, without any warrant, pushed him into a Tajik military-transport airplane and delivered him directly into the clutches of the security service of Emomali Rakhmanov, the President of Tajikistan.
At the moment, when this story became known, it seemed to many independent journalists that this was a single instance, which happened only because the excessive zeal of certain Russian officials from Lubianka.
Yet, today, after the leakage of information about the secret agreement on control over the Internet in the CIS, this incident can be regarded as the beginning of mass “purges” of electronic space in the above-mentioned five countries of the Commonwealth, first of all in Russia!
If our supposition corresponds with the real state of affairs, then the greater would be the growth of political instability in Russia, Belarus and other countries, which have signed the secret agreement, the stricter would be the actions of authorities of these countries in their attempts to control, at any price, their segments of the Internet-space!
Almost nobody doubts now that this will happen very soon. Presidential election (or, to be more exact, re-election of President Nazarbayev) will be conducted soon in Kazakhstan, the conflict in Andizhan (Uzbekistan) has finished only recently, Lukashenko in Belarus has carried censorship to the point of absurdity – “purge” of animation, and Russia is preparing for the election to Duma in 2007 and presidential election in 2008. And the closer is year 2008, the less predictable is the behavior of our power structures and our brave special services.
Taking into consideration everything above-said, we have now no doubts that the agreement on inter-state control of the Internet will work at its full potential in the immediate future. And then the life of electronic mass media and independent journalists will be far from pleasant!
P. S. By the way, there is nothing new or original in such agreement of authoritarian states. The precedent of such secret agreement on inter-governmental struggle with political opposition was created in 1970s in the Latin America in the time of Chili dictator Augusto Pinochet. Then the special services of military regimes of Chili, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and several other states also concluded a secret agreement on joint struggle against representatives of political opposition and independent journalists on territories of their countries. Large-scale shadowing, illegal searches and attacks of “unknown hooligans” were organized. Special services hindered representatives of oppositional mass media from normal work and publication of their materials. Sometimes extreme measures were taken – the journalists were secretly abducted by special services and passed to “colleagues” in neighboring countries
This secret agreement was called “Plan “Condor”” and became known to wide public only after the overthrow of the dictatorial regimes in Chili, Argentina and on the greater part of the Latin America. At that time the Internet, naturally, was not included into the plan “Condor”, since the main tools of journalists of that epoch were pen and typewriter: personal computers appeared in the beginning of 1980s, and the Internet-boom began only in the end of 1990s. Nowadays just the Internet has become the segment of informational space, most independent of any authoritarian power, and, as a consequence, it is the most tasty morsel for various censors and state “law-enforcers”.
That is why the main goal of the considered agreement between special services of the CIS countries is the control of the Internet and independent mass media in the Internet-space of the Commonwealth. As to the concrete methods of struggle with the “Orange plague”, our native security organs did not invent a bicycle, but copied the notorious Chili plan “Condor”! Apparently, the methods (and the outlook as a whole) of General Pinochet is closer to present Russian political elite than the foolish liberal dreams about the freedom of people and the state accountable to its citizens.Translated from www.press-attache.ru