Another week, another opposition tussle in Moscow.
This time, riot police detained around a thousand anti-corruption
protesters and beat up many more with
truncheons—right after President Vladimir Putin told NBC
that Russian police don’t beat people with truncheons.
But don’t be too hard on the poor guys (I mean the police.)
They were probably just traumatized by their previous
fiasco. I’m referring, of course, to the June 11 shootout
in a Moscow region village, where a killer of four reportedly
armed with WWII-era guns fought off the cops for hours
and then escaped. That must have hurt their e
At least protesters—many of them teenagers—don’t
put up so much resistance.
But let’s talk about the internet. I mean bill 195446-7, of
course. The one proposing to finally bring the Russian internet
up to the lofty standards of the Ministry of Public
Security of China (公安部)—i.e. to ban TOR, Virtual Private
Networks and other tools for circumventing online censorship.
Russia currently blocks 6.3 million websites, according
to internet freedom watchdog Rublacklist.net. But besides
a handful of porn sites, the torrent tracker Rutracker.org
and that terrible menace to Russian law and order, LinkedIn,
no one really knows most of these obscure sites.
Meanwhile, the websites, blogs and YouTube channels
of protest leader Alexei Navalny are still going strong. So
are a gazillion other sites that say not-so-nice things about
the government. As the Chinese Ministry of Public Security
demonstrates, it is entirely possible to block them all. So
far, the Kremlin doesn’t appear to have the guts to do that.
But who knows what the future holds?
The reason is simple: technophobic “sexagenarians.”
Or, more precisely, the over-sixty folks who run this lovely
little country from the active retirement home we call the
Kremlin. Mr. Putin turns 65 on October 7 (don’t forget to
send a birthday card). His Politburo is roughly of the same
age, and so are most policy makers who matter. The few
spring chickens in their midst—ahem, Dmitry “I was President”
Medvedev, aged 51—meekly conform.