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The internet in Russia: the cradle of civil society. OSW Commentary No. 72, 2012-03-21

Rogoza, Jadwiga (2012) The internet in Russia: the cradle of civil society. OSW Commentary No. 72, 2012-03-21. [Policy Paper]

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    In the last decade, along with economic and technological growth, Russia has seen a dynamic development of the internet. Today the net is an everyday tool of work, information and entertainment for 40% of Russians – the most educated, active and affluent part of the society. The spread of the internet (known in Russia as the Runet) has, in turn, brought about significant political and social consequences. With the political and social sphere in Russia strictly controlled by the government, most of this activity has moved to cyberspace. The internet has become an alternative to the state-controlled media, a site for the free exchange of views and a home to numerous social initiatives. In this way, it has become a school of citizenship for Russians, and a kind of ‘test tube’ that has spawned social and political activity. This activity went beyond cyberspace in the election period in 2011/2012, and turned into massive street protests. The potential of the internet has also been used by the Russian government, both to shape public opinion (via loyal online media) and to monitor civil initiatives, especially opposition ones. The state has many instruments of technical control and supervision of the internet and its users’ activity. This control was used in the election period 2011/2012, when selected sites were blocked and pressure exerted on independent websites. These actions were a warning sign from the government, aimed at discouraging internet users from any opposition activity. However, it does not seem feasible that any restriction of such activity can be effective. The scale of this activity is now enormous, and attempts to censor the net and resorting to repression against internet users on a wider scale would only fuel resentment towards the government.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Russia
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 14:43
    Number of Pages: 9
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2014 14:43

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