#Fracking : Cameron Ignores Plea’s from “People About Environment and Health” and Bribe’s Council’s”


#AceNewsServices says according to the latest UK #Fracking news from the BBC also with Video

Councils that back #fracking will get to keep more money in tax revenue, David Cameron has said as he urged opponents to “get on board”.

The prime minister said English local authorities would receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes – rather than the usual 50%.

In a visit to a Lincolnshire fracking site, he predicted the process could support 74,000 jobs and reduce bills.

Against fracking 01

Against fracking 01 (Photo credit: Bosc d’Anjou)

But Greenpeace accused ministers of trying to “bribe councils”.

Mr Cameron’s announcement on business rates came as French company Total confirmed plans to invest about £30m to help drill two exploratory wells in Lincolnshire. It is the first major energy firm to invest in fracking in the UK.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England.

But the process to extract it – called fracking, which is short for “hydraulic fracturing” – has led to protests, with environmentalists fearing the technique could cause small earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.

On Monday protesters at the Barton Moss fracking facility in Greater Manchester climbed on to lorries entering the site.

But Mr Cameron argued that the UK had the “strongest environmental controls” and pledged: “Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers.

“Shale is important for our country,” he continued. “It could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3 billion of investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security.

“I want us to get on board this change that is doing so much good and bringing so much benefit to North America. I want us to benefit from it here as well.”

Infographic showing shale gas extraction

Fracking involve’s drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside.

Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment would mean councils keeping up to £1.7m extra a year from each fracking site.

Separately, the mining industry has pledged to give communities £100,000 for test drilling and a further 1% of the revenues if shale is discovered, they added.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said councils could benefit by up to “£10 million per well-head” if shale gas was successfully extracted in their communities, through the 1% levy on revenues.

“How fracking recovers natural gas from shale”

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said the announcement was a “step in the right direction” but any packages had to “fairly remunerate” those affected.

“Start Quote

This is a naked attempt by the government to bribe hard-pressed councils into accepting fracking in their area.”

According to Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace

“One percent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good enough; returns should be more in line with payments across the rest of the world and be set at 10%,” a spokesman said. “The community benefits of fracking should be enshrined in law, so companies cannot withdraw them to the detriment of local people.”

Responding to the LGA’s call for 10% of revenues, Mr Fallon said: “This is something obviously the industry will keep under review.”

For Labour, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said it was right for communities to share in the potential rewards from shale gas, but he called on the government to “get its priorities right”.

“Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix,” he said.

Friends of the Earth’s Jane Thomas argued that the new policy “highlights the depth of local opposition to fracking and the desperate lengths ministers are prepared to go to try to overcome it”.

‘New North Sea’

Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace added: “Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy.”

St Anna's Road siteThe “fracking” technique to extract shale gas has proved controversial

The Institute of Directors welcomed the move on business rates, with chief economist James Sproule arguing: “Investment from Total is a vote of long-term confidence in the UK shale industry, and is a welcome sign that the government is creating the conditions necessary to maximise the potential benefits of a new domestic energy source.

UKIP energy spokesman Roger Helmer warned  that “all the financial benefits [of fracking] could be swallowed up by bureaucracy” and urged the government to create a sovereign wealth fund so that  fracking  profits “would ensure financial security for future generations”.

Map showing areas of the UK licensed for oil and gas exploration and areas under consideration for licensing

 

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#TPP is Fast-Tracked Through Congress to Facilitate a Flawed Agreement


#AceWorldNews says according to a post today in EcoWatch written by Ilana Solomon it was yesterday, Congress pulled a rusty, old tool from the bottom of its toolbox. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Camp (R-MI) introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, otherwise known as “fast track,” which could facilitate passage of deeply flawed trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact with limited public and Congressional input. If fast-track legislation is approved by Congress, the President would be able sign the #TPP and then send it to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote—with no room for amendments and limited floor debate. If that sounds backward, it’s because it is.

tppFI

The#TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and fracking across the U.S. Graphic courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

First, fast track is an outdated and inappropriate mechanism. It was first passed in 1974 when trade pacts focused on traditional trade issues, like tariffs and quotas. Today, trade pacts like the #TPP cover a broad range of issues including the environment, investment, labour, government procurement, consumer protections and many more things we face in our everyday lives. It is therefore critical that Congress maintain its constitutional authority to oversee trade policy and ensure that trade pacts protect communities, workers and the environment before the pacts get finalized.

Second, fast track is undemocratic. After congressional approval, the President could submit signed trade pacts to Congress for an up-or-down vote within 90 days with all amendments forbidden and a maximum of 20 hours of debate. Even more atrocious is that it would actually allow the President to write legislation that would change U.S. laws to make them conform to the terms of the secretly negotiated trade agreement.

In other words, fast-track authority eliminates a critical constitutional check-and-balance structure that aids most other democratic processes. By stripping Congress of its ability to fully debate and amend the language of today’s all-encompassing trade pacts, fast-track authority renders Congress unable to ensure that trade negotiations result in agreements that benefit communities and the environment.

Third, it’s a risky endeavor that could help rubber-stamp very harmful trade pacts such as the #TPP. The #TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would elevate corporations to the level of nations, thus allowing foreign companies to directly sue governments in private trade tribunals over laws and policies that corporations allege reduce their profits. It would also open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and, therefore,fracking across the U.S.

TPP What is Wrong?And the real kicker is that—despite these any many other consequences—there has been virtually no opportunity for public discussion of the trade pact, as no draft text has been publicly revealed. So Congress is actually voting on whether to quickly pass trade agreements it’s never even seen!

Now is the time we need a full discussion about the true costs of the #TPP and other trade pacts—not a process to rush flawed deals through the finish line.

The bottom line is that fast track would set us up for failure. It’s critical that Congress has the ability to effectively oversee trade negotiations and ensure that the contents of our trade agreements protect our workers, communities and environment in the U.S. and abroad. The public and members of Congress have effectively been left in the dark for too long. Now it’s up to Congress to take the reins and oppose fast track. On behalf of the Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members and supports, I urge members to oppose this fast-track bill and retain their right to ensure that the U.S. trades responsibly.

Courtesy of Ilana Solomon

 

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Edward Snowden: Hero Or Zero?


Ace News Group:

#AceWorldNews says ” #truth is stranger than fiction but people who tell the #realtruth deserve to be heard and not not made to pay #freedomofspeech

Originally posted on Robin Hood Revival:

As we have previously stated at Robin Hood, Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are the first of many “truthers”.  America’s condemnation of these “truthers” confirms America has a lot to hide.  The Washington establishment with it portrayal of naivety projects so it hopes, that naivety on to the American people.  The awakening for the american people began some time ago the Washington Post along with the rest of the corporate news media will never again we believe at Robin Hood be capable of shaping the American people’s reality.

Love and blessings

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Obama Administration Issues “Two New Executive Orders” on Gun Control in Attempt to Erode Second Amendment


#AceWorldNews according to by  in his story on January 4th, 2014 that was last updated at 9:07 pm. The Obama Administration announced two new executive orders on gun control Friday, after countless other attempts to erode Second Amendment rights failed to gain public support.

gunconfiscationAccording to one of the proposed actions, patient privacy laws would be pushed aside to allow increased government access to mental health records. Currently required to protect that information, states would now be exempt, instead encouraged to submit a patients private records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

A second proposal from the Department of Justice would “clarify” who is barred from owning firearms, which would include anyone involuntarily committed to an inpatient or outpatient mental institution. In an attempt to diminish concern, the administration claims that seeking help for mental issues does not prohibit a person from firearm ownership.

“The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm,” the statement said.

Unfortunately, even without the executive orders currently applied, the government has already deceptively used this exact tactic to revoke legitimate gun ownership without due process, an issue that will undoubtedly increase.

READ MORE: SL

 

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#AceNewsGroup says to All its Readers “Thank You for 1000 Likes on Our Posts”


WP Like Button#AceNewsGroup says today marks another milestone for our group and it is all thanks to you the readers kind support and all your likes, as we have reached 1000 and we could not do it without your support.

So all l can say is a great big thank you from the Ace News GroupThanks in all languages   

 

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“Russian Police Repeatedly Harassed Two Norwegian TV Journalists”


Sochi (Krasnodar krai), coat of arms

Sochi (Krasnodar krai), coat of arms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews  says  Reporters Without Borders is Shocked by the Way the Russian Police Repeatedly harassed two Norwegian TV journalists , Reporter Oystein Bogen and Cameraman Aage Aune , while They Were Visiting the Sochi Region from 31 October to 2 November to cover problems related to preparations for next February’s Winter Olympics .

Bogen and Aune, WHO work for Norway’s Privately-owned TV2 Channel, Say the Police Stopped Them six times in the space of Three days, interrogated Them in Detail About Their work and Their local contacts and, at one Point, even took Them into custody for several hours.

“Arbitrary arrest, violation of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, seizure of journalistic material – this string of breaches of freedom of information suggests a strategy of all-out harassment,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Sochi / RU, 2007

Sochi / RU, 2007 (Photo credit: william veerbeek)

“The ordeal That These two journalists underwent bodes ill for the drastic Security Measures That Will be Applied in the Run-up to the games . Combatting terrorist threats is obviously necessary but it does not justify such excesses. We hope the Norwegian authorities will quickly obtain the explanations they have requested from their Russian counterparts. “

“The international media must not be intimidated by this episode. There is nothing criminal about covering the preparations for the Winter Olympics or meeting local journalists and activists. We reiterate our appeal to foreign reporters to take advantage of the spotlight on Sochi to look beyond the Olympic facade and to meet local civil society representatives.

“At the Same time, we Urge Visiting journalists to Take the Necessary Precautions to protect the confidentiality of sources and Their to avoid Surveillance of Their Communications . To this end, we have Made A ‘Digital Survival kit’ available to Them. “

Bogen and Aune had proper accreditation and used a rental car to travel around Krasnodar, the region where Sochi is located, and to visit the neighbouring autonomous Republic of Adygea.

They were first questioned about their plans and the people they were interviewing on 31 October.They were questioned again, twice, on 1 November in Maykop, Adygea’s capital. At the end of the second session on 1 November, other police officer suddenly arrived, accused Bogen of taking drugs and made him accompany them to a nearby clinic for a drug test. This episode ended after an hour and a half, when a person identifying himself as the local police chief released the two journalists and apologised for the “mistake.”

The next day, they were stopped again and interrogated for an hour between Maykop and Sochi. And they were questioned again in the early evening near Tuapse, a town in the Krasnodar region. This time they were taken into custody without any explanation and were put in a cell with other suspects.

Their equipment was temporarily confiscated and their repeated requests to be allowed to call their embassy were ignored. They were freed at around 10 pm but, as they reached the outskirts of Sochi, they were stopped again.

After searches and a security check, they were taken to the nearest police checkpoint, where an officer questioned Bogen about his private life and his work, going so far as to ask him for a list of the people he planned to meet in Sochi and the places where he planned to film. After being forced to sign a statement without being given a copy, they were finally allowed to continue their way at around 1 am

The Russian foreign ministry gave the two journalists a formal apology yesterday for the “series of unwarranted actions” and said the police responsible would be punished for “abusing their authority.”

Reporters Without Borders Published an in-depth Report in early October About the State of freedom of information in the Sochi Region .

(Photos: TV2 / Oystein Bogen, Aage Aune)


Foreign journalists must not retreat in the face of intimidation

Reporters Without Borders shocked intrusive actions by the police, who were subjected to two Norwegian journalists in Sochi region during from October 31 to November 2, 2013 Reporter private channel TV2 Heist Bogen and operator Ogge Eyun came to the region for reporting problems, related to the organization of the Winter Olympic Games, which begin in February 2014 According to the journalists they were detained by law enforcement officials six times in three days.During the detention of journalists questioned in detail about their professional and local contacts and even placed under arrest without explanation.

“Arbitrary detention, secret neglect of journalistic sources, the confiscation of professional equipment … This set of violations of freedom of information shows determination to expose harassment of two journalists. Their painful stay in the region does not bode well against tough security measures that will be taken in anticipation of the Olympics, starting in January of next year. Combating the threat of terrorism is certainly necessary, but it does not justify such action. We hope that the Norwegian authorities very soon receive an explanation from the Russian leadership, “- said Reporters Without Borders.

“The international media should not allow themselves to be intimidated by this incident. There is nothing criminal to carry reports on the preparation of the Olympic Games and to meet with local journalists and activists. We again appeal to foreign correspondents calling a wide press coverage of Sochi to not be limited to the Olympic theme and meet with civil society. At the same time, we urge to take all necessary precautions to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information and to avoid total control of their communications: for this purpose we have available for journalists’ digital survival kit ‘. “

Heist Bogen and Ogge Eyun – duly accredited journalists. They rented a car for journeys in the Krasnodar region, which is located in Sochi, as well as the neighboring autonomous republic of Adygea. Answering questions for the first time on October 31 about the plans and the persons from whom they interviewed journalists were again a series of interviews on November 1 in Maikop (Adygea). At the end of the second interview arrived at the scene other Interior Ministry officials, accusing Heist Bogen in the use of drugs and forcibly took him to the nearest clinic for a series of tests. Journalists detained after half an hour and then released after a man arrived who introduced himself as the local police chief, and brought them to apologize for making a “mistake.”

Nevertheless, the next day journalists were detained and interrogated again an hour between Maikop and Sochi. Then again, in the late afternoon, near Tuapse (Krasnodar region). But this time the journalists detained without explanation in a cell with other suspects, temporarily withdrawing their equipment. Their repeated requests to contact the embassy were not taken into account. Finally, in the area 22 hours journalists released from custody. However, when reporters finally got to Sochi, they once again detained. After the search and security control procedures, they were taken to a nearby checkpoint where police officer questioned Heist Bogen detail about his personal and professional life, asking to provide a list of persons with whom the latter was planning to meet in Sochi, as well as places that he was going to shoot film. Journalists have not received any copies of their statements, which were forced to sign. They finally were allowed to continue their journey in the morning.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a formal apology to two journalists on November 6 for “a number of unreasonable actions” that they have experienced. The ministry said that law enforcement officials, “exceeded its authority” will be punished.

Reporters Without Borders published in early October, a report on the status of the investigation in relation to freedom of information in the region of Sochi.

LINKED ARTICLES

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“Government Anti-“Extremism” Campaign Hits Internet Content and Access in Russia”


Logo of Reporters Without Borders, animated tr...

Logo of Reporters Without Borders, animated trilingual version (English, French, Spanish). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceGuestNews says according to a recent article in RFS the authorities have used the issue of national security to expand Web monitoring and censorship – even while continuing to promote and develop Internet access for the population at large. The Web has played a key role in the political debate prompted by legislative and presidential elections and in the post-election mobilization of the opposition and civil society. These developments provoked a strong official response. The blogosphere has grown stronger and better organized in the face of state attacks.

Government anti-“extremism” campaign hits Internet content and access

President George W. Bush of the United States ...

President George W. Bush of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, exchange handshakes Thursday, June 7, 2007, after their meeting at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prime Minister (now President-elect) Vladimir Putin said on 9 February 2012: “Negative phenomena exist everywhere, including on the Internet, and should not be used as a pretext to limit Internet freedom.” However, the authorities have used the justification of preventing violence to reinforce their control of the Internet, with the Federal Security Service (FSB) taking steps to close a number of online organizations in late 2011. Most of these groups have clearly called on their members to respect the law and not to let themselves be provoked into violence.

The government list of “extremist” content, as well as the boundaries of the category itself, keep growing. It now includes everything touching on religion and issues of ethnicity, which have become taboo subjects on RuNet – as the Russian Internet is known. That list is the basis of official demands to take down content, and of actions to block site access (see the Russia chapter in the 2011 report on Enemies of the Internet).

The process of domain name registration could affect freedom of expression online by leading to closure of more sites. New rules promulgated by Nic.ru, the biggest Russian domain name-registration company, allow the cancellation of domain names for inciting violence, “extremist” activity, advocating overthrow of the government, activity in conflict with human dignity or religious beliefs. The rules reflected new official regulations. Domain name-registration companies are authorized to suspend names in the .ru and .rf (pΦ) domains upon written notification from “agencies conducting an investigation.” That provision would potentially authorize prosecutors, the FSB, the police, or the drug enforcement agency (FSKN) to order such a move.

In Tomsk, Siberia, the broadcast arm of Roskomnadzor, the federal mass communications supervisory agency, has recently pressured the regional television network TV-2 to stop transmitting two news programs by Dozhd, the first Internet TV network in Russia, whose content is critical of the government.

Anatoly Baranov, owner of the forum.msk.ru discussion platform, states that the Yandex search engine filtered out news items from his site on Yandex.News searches.

Danger of the spread of online monitoring and censorship

English: Flag of Roskomnadzor Русский: Флаг Ро...

English: Flag of Roskomnadzor Русский: Флаг Роскомнадзора (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roskomnadzor, whose regulatory authority extends to information technology and mass communications, has announced that it has installed on-line software to detect “extremist” material. The sites identified through this process will be given three days to take down content that meets this ill-defined standard. If a site does not comply, two additional warnings will be sent. The site will then be shut down.

The software was to go into operation in test mode in December, 2011. Its full deployment has beenpostponed indefinitely. Nevertheless, it carries the risk of system-wide monitoring of the Russian Weband could lead eventually to the taking down of all content that displeases the authorities.

The justice ministry, for its part, has invited bids to create its own monitoring system of content on the Internet. Such a system would allow close examination of all content touching on Russian government and justice systems, and any European Union statement concerning Russia.

Bloggers under pressure

Prison sentences and violent attacks were less frequent in 2011, except during the election campaign period. Yet legal proceedings and pressures of all kind continue – above all when the activities of netizens focus on sensitive topics and powerful interest groups.

Maj. Igor Matveev of the interior ministry garrison in Vladivostok has been prosecuted on charges that seem to have been prompted by his revelations last June of practices in the military region where he served. He reported that troops were served dog food in cans falsely labelled as containing beef stew. He faces a possible 10-year sentence.

Yuri Yegorov, a former employee of the regional government of Tatarstan’s human rights ombudsman’s office, received a six-month suspended sentence last June, as well as two years of probation, for defamation. He had revealed a case of alleged corruption in the ombudsman’s office, headed by Rashit Vagiov, that took place from February to July 2007.

Leonid Kaganov, a prominent blogger, was forced last May to house his site abroad. In 2009, the FSB had demanded, through his hosting service, the removal of an anti-Semitic poem that was on his site because he had mocked it.

Roman Hoseyev is the target of administrative action for having quoted from “Mein Kampf” on a site in 2005, before the 2010 banning of the book in Russia. He had drawn comparisons between statements by US President George W. Bush and Hitler.

No information has been received about the fate of a Navy conscript who blogged under the nameVasily, publishing on Twitter under the name Sosigusyan. He denounced hazing and poor living conditions in his unit. His Twitter account was hacked and the content about the military taken down, except for the last three posts, which were written by another person.

Propaganda and cyber-attacks

In addition to mounting a campaign of repression against on-line oppositionists, the Kremlin deploys its own cyber-weapons. Several thousand Twitter accounts were hacked at the end of 2011 in order to flood social media with pro-government messages, using hashtags popular with oppositionists (notably, #navalny, from the name of the well-known political activist and anti-corruption bloggerAlexei Navalny, and #триумфалънпая, from Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow).

LiveJournal was taken down by DDOS in 2006.

LiveJournal was taken down by DDOS in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Russian bloggers have pointed to a wave of “bots” unleashed against the LiveJournal social media platform. Oleg Kozyrev, an opposition blogger, has counted more than 2,000 of these software weapons.

Oppositionist Navalny’s e-mail inbox has been hacked, with the contents displayed on a site called navalnymail.kz. According to several bloggers, this action could be part of a government-organized campaign to discredit Navalny.

The wave of cyber-attacks peaked at the time of the legislative elections last December. A series of Distributed Denial of Service attacks paralyzed sites critical of the government before and during the vote, apparently to silence the dissidents. Access to LiveJournal, which hosts blogs critical of the Kremlin, was blocked for three days, starting on 1 December 2011. The site had already suffered a DDoS attack the month before.

Among other Web targets are:

  • Echo of Moscow radio’s site, Echo.msk.ru
  • The independent daily Kommersant’s site, komersant.ru
  • The election-monitoring NGO’s site, golos.org
  • KartaNarusheniy.ru, an interactive map created by Golos to track reports of election fraud
  • Gazeta.ru, an independent news site
  • Lenizdat.ru, a Saint Petersburg-based independent news site
  • Slonl.ru and Newtimes.ru, opposition sites which posted the Golos map after Gazeta.ru took it down
  • Ridus.ru, a citizen-journalism site
  • Doshdu.ru, the site of Dosh, an independent news magazine about the Russian Caucasus
  • Zaks.ru, a news site on the northwest region.

Some media organizations and opposition groups, having anticipated these developments, migrated to social networks and called on their readers to follow them on Twitter and Facebook in the event that their sites went down.

Disputed elections, attempted control of online political debate

Most traditional media organizations, notably television networks, are under Kremlin control, genuine political discussions have been possible only online. Any measure deemed necessary to uphold the country’s strongman, Putin, has been considered appropriate.

Even before and during the legislative elections, debates had been hindered by cyber-attacks and by the arrests of journalists and bloggers. Those detained included Alexey Sochnev, the editor of the independent news site Besttoday.ru; Maria Plieva, a prominent blogger in Ossetia; and the president of Golos, Lilia Chibanova.

Golos’ interactive election-fraud monitoring map proved to be a great success as the elections unfolded. Thousands of videos showing irregularities at voting places were posted to the site, prompting Russians to take to the streets in great numbers to denounce election fraud. Navalny and many journalists were arrested during these post-election demonstrations,

The great majority of traditional media organizations – especially television networks – ignored these events. Instead, they provided largely favourable coverage of Putin’s party, United Russia, which swept the legislative elections.

English: Emblem of Federal Security Service of...

English: Emblem of Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. Español: Emblema del Servicio Federal de Seguridad. Русский: Эмблема ФСБ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The social media site Vkontakte, which has more than 5 million members in Russia, found itself in the government spotlight. The FSB told the site’s founder and director, Pavel Durov, to shut down seven groups calling for demonstrations last December (including a group rallying to defend the ruling party). A Russian blogger estimated that up to 185,000 netizens subscribed to protest-organizing groups. A spokesman for Vkontakte said publicly that the site would not practice censorship and would not carry out the FSB order. Following the statement, Durov was summoned to appear before prosecutors in Saint Petersburg on 9 December.

Regional discussion forums, very popular at the provincial level, with most participants anonymous, have become a favourite resource for political debate among Russian netizens, and a nightmare for the authorities. However, these sites are less powerful than the national media and easy to censor, though that has not prevented netizens from migrating to other sites, hosted abroad. At least three forums were closed or suspended during the months leading up to the early December elections.

One of these sites is the Kostroma Jedis regional forum, which was targeted following the posting of two satirical videos criticizing Igor Slyunyaev, governor of the Kostroma region, some 300 km northwest of Moscow. In November, other forums were shut down or purged of all political content by their administrators. One such case occurred in the Arzamas, a city 410 km east of Moscow, affecting the mcn.nnov.ru site. Another took place in the west-central city of Miass, 95 km west of Chelyabinsk, affecting the forum.miass.ru site. It is not clear if these were cases of official action or self-censorship. In either case, the closing of these forums signifies a narrowing of the possibilities for political debate on the Russian Web.

In the run-up to the presidential election in March, Golos, the election-monitoring NGO, put up a new version of its interactive map to track election fraud, with stronger defences against cyber-attack. Navalny, the activist and blogger, mounted a site, Rosvybory.org, to assist citizens in becoming presidential election observers.

The campaign of repression mounted for the legislative elections illustrated the official attitude toward protest. And the official response was designed to create a deterrent to popular action in the presidential election period. Tensions grew during the months between the two elections. On 17 February, Reporters Without Borders denounced a wave of intimidation aimed at national independent media. Major targets included Echo of MoscowNovaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper, and Dozhd, the online television operation. The latter organization received a fax on 16 February from the Moscow prosecutor’s office, demanding detailed information on the “network’s financing for coverage of mass demonstrations on 10 and 24 December.”

These barely veiled accusations against Dozhd track precisely with statements by Prime Minister Putin, who had publicly accused demonstrators of having acted at the encouragement of the US state department. Roskomnadzor, the mass communications authority, had already required Dozhd to defend its coverage of the December protests. After examining in detail the images that the network had transmitted, the agency finally concluded that they contained nothing objectionable.

Journalists were again arrested and beaten during the post-election demonstrations of 5 March 2012. The clear goal was to prevent coverage of the demonstrations. However, contrary to what was seen in December, cyber-attacks seem to have been set aside – for now.

Export of the Russian model of Web control?

Russia has played a leading role on the international scene in promoting its vision of the Internet and exporting its Web control strategy. Moscow has proposed to the UN, together with China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, an Internet conduct code designed to provide “information security.”

The impact of the Kremlin’s policy is all the greater because the RuNet sphere of influence extends throughout the region, influencing countries such as Belarus and Kazakhstan in their Internet monitoring and censorship programs.

#AceGuestViews

 

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