Monday, April 06, 2009

The Kremlin's New Media Strategy

The Kremlin's new media maneuverings are interesting to say the least. The Estonians have accused the Kremlin of one of the first instances of cyberwarfare. And, as Newsweek reported after the 2008 campaign, the computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown 'foreign entity.' "Obama technical experts later speculated that the hackers were Russian or Chinese."

Russia's shadowy relationship with journalists and newspaper employees is -- how does one say this? -- complicated. "Russia is a uniquely hostile place for the execution of independent journalism. It is both violent and repressive," Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists told CBSNews in 2006. As the old media dinosaurs lumber towards extinction, that has given the Kremlin the opportunity to influence/strongarm -- take your pick -- the rising new media in Russia. From ForeignPolicy:

"I've been a keen observer of ways in which governments all over the world are trying to fill the Internet with their own propaganda. I even coined a term to describe this phenomenon- 'the spinternet' - and it seems to be gaining currency online. Much of this spinning is done by paid or voluntary Internet commentators (or government-funded start-ups) who make anonymous comments on blogs and forums, trying to steer sensitive online discussions in directions that would favor the authorities. I know that these accounts sometime sound a bit paranoid – after all, I still can't wrap my ahead about the fact that China may have as many as 280,000 such commentators – but occasionally I come across evidence that makes me think that we might actually be underestimating the threat.

For example, today Alexander Zharov, deputy minister of communications in the Russian government, said (article in Russian) that the government is going to double its support to 'socially important' web-sites, bringing it to almost $35 million a year (this roughly translates into a dollar per every Internet user in Russia)."

The full article here.

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