Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Such Total Control Has Never Been Seen Before In Russia

September 29, 2017

Mikhail Khodorkovsky comments on the Russian authorities’ latest assault on internet freedoms. 

In the run up to the 2018 presidential elections the security services and the supervisory authorities are not letting up in their attempts to set up total surveillance of the internet in Russia.  Every influential resource that isn’t under their control is an irritant and becomes a target for “digestion”.

These are what I would call boa constrictor tactics.  First they force you to make concessions in words, then they threaten to block you, then they demand formal cooperation followed by heavy fines.  Next they will open up a criminal case against you while your employees, relatives and close friends are taken hostage.  In the cases where the security services aren’t able to swallow the organisation, they settle for spoiling it, as they’ve done with Youtube.

Now the state watchdog is threatening to block Facebook, and the FSB is not giving up on forcing Telegram to comply with giving them access to encrypted data.

Well, they have absolutely succeeded in spoiling the Russian internet.  For the past few years the security services have blocked more than 8 million online resources, according to Roskomsvoboda.  Meanwhile, the share of genuinely extremist or dangerous websites among the heaps of blocked resources is getting smaller each year, while the number of ‘undesirable’ and opposition pages is growing.  A significant part of the casualties are simply random resources that are linked to the IP of other “banned” websites, or are shut down upon request of ignorant and obscurantist political forces.

According to Wikileaks, after the adoption of the Yarovaya law, the distinction between legal interception of data and the mass observation of citizens without a court order practically disappeared.  Such total control has never been seen before in Russia, even during Stalin’s time.

The modern Russian security services have access to almost all of a citizen’s personal information.  And given the level of corruption and personal interest of the political elite in the lives of citizens, this data becomes a commodity both inside the security services and outside.

Any individual FSB colonel can now get access to a whole array of personal data of a Nemtsov or Politkovskaya, they can organise surveillance, or simply do with this data as they see fit – to pass it on to some Kadyrov, for instance.  He could even decide to slip this information to a pro-Kremlin “journalist”.  You’ll recall once upon a time that president Putin himself was involved in the organisation of filming and distributing to the main TV channels a very “private” video of procurator Skuratov.

So don’t be surprised if, after all these draconic Russian laws which serve to “protect” the personal data of citizens, you find yourself on Lifenews or discover your private correspondence and accounts in the hands of some extortionists in official uniforms.  The first people to suffer from this will be the opponents of the authorities and businessmen, but sooner or later average citizens will fall victim too.