Russia is tightening the screws after the Domodedovo attack

Current regime in Russia is tightening its control over the civil society and internet after the shocking terrorist attack on the Domodedovo airport. It seems that Medvedev and Security Services need to justify themselves and avoid the nationalistic backlash to terrorism. Their actions resulted in internet clampdown. Thus under the auspices of war on terrorism RuNet might be monitored as never before.

1. Security Services regaining the trust

The recent terrorist attack in Domodedovo Airport has raised various questions for the Security Services in Russia. These services are now working hard to justify their budget expenditures and to prove that they are indeed doing their job. This is no simple task; most actions be the security services are regularly and openly mocked by society.

A recent examples of this is the demonstrative visit of President Medvedev to one of the Moscow metro stations. A correspondent, from the business newspaper Kommersant, Ivan Buranov happened to meet [RUS] the President “accidentally.” He reported that at the metro entrance there was a large X-ray scanner for passengers as well as equipment for baggage screening and containers for bomb isolation. This equipment was on show specifically as a demonstration to Mr. Medvedev. The President was seen to use the escalator down to the platform, where he was surrounded by the terrified crowd. Passersby were clearly shocked to see a Russian “idol” live and in the flesh.

These actions have prompted many netizens to raise questions concerning whether all these measures were necessary. As user solojumper puts it [RUS]:

Here is the translation:
It has became apparent that:
1. Metal detectors in the metro will make it much faster and more comfortable to travel around the town;
2. TNT is composed of metal;
3. It is notimpressive to have the sniffer-dogs with bomb specialists.

After the President left, all the equipment was switched off and was removed. It is also reported [RUS] according to the metro entrance workers that those people who knew how to use the installed equipment left after Medvedev did. The head of the Moscow subway Dmitry Gaev explained that similar systems will be installed on other stations only after the approval from the state. Later on it was announced that Medvedev ordered the Interior Ministry to expand the number of sniffer-dogs and bomb specialists.

All this news leaves a peculiar sense of frustration and suspicious feeling that Medvedev is now actively involved in the presidential race.

2. A nationalist backlash?

There are fears that the recent terrorist attack on Domodedovo airport may cause a wave of nationalism. Only a few hours after the attack itself, Georgy Boft the co-chairman of the “Pravoe Delo” [RUS] party (the ‘Right Cause’), appeared on a radio talk show on the Russian News Service. Boft made the following comment [RUS]: “When Central Asian flights land in Domodedovo with herds of filthy migrant workers, going back and forth in a Brownian motion […] what order can be established here?” The radio host did not say a word about this derogatory slur and the show continued.

After the initial attack on Domodedovo videos about it received many irate, nationalistic comments on youtube. Many of comments were deleted later on, however the negative attitude is still there.

3. Control over the internet

Some people were expecting the government to tighten the screws, and indeed more restrictive measures may be in the works. It has been reported on the planned measures to control the internet space and the content thereon. There have even been direct comments stating that Russia launches initiative to police internet. It is even reported that the “League of secured internet” will start working from February. Its main goal is to monitor all types of publications in the RuNet, with special focus on extremist and pornographic content. The news spread like wildfire; netizens are concerned that this measure will limit the freedom of speech in the internet and will be used as a tool to silence the opposition’s voice; Russia is seemingly following the Chinese model.

The Russian state has undoubtedly realized the power of the social networking sites, blogging and other communicational tools and have decided to restrict its regulation. The government might have feared the Egyptian example and simply decided to avoid the same scenario happening in Russia.

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