It is commonplace to bump into people who have a casual attitude to online surveillance and censorship. Hopefully, such people will read this piece by Ms Evdokimova, a New York based Russian journalist and human rights campaigner who writes for the Slate [with the Wire reprinting the Slate’s content]. Ms Evdokimova writes about how Putin & friends have cracked down on the internet and those who use the net to voice opinions that they don’t like: “…the Russian government arrested and detained more than 16,000 people for opposing the war. Then, it focused on expanding its toolbox for stifling domestic dissent. The authorities blacklisted and blocked more than 7,000 websites, banned Meta (aka Facebook) over alleged extremist activities, and fined Telegram about $178,000 for failing to take down content about Ukraine.”
So how can a Government do this whilst still following the letter of the law? Answer: by changing the law of the land: “In March, Russia’s parliament adopted a series of Bills imposing administrative and criminal liability and prison terms up to 15 years for disseminating fake news, or “fakes,” about the Russian Armed Forces. Of the 236 criminal cases currently open against Russian citizens for opposing the war in Ukraine, 80 are being prosecuted under the “fakes” law.
“The key goal of the law on ‘fakes’ is to ensure that only the official government position about socially significant issues remains in the public discourse,” said Stanislav Seleznev, a lawyer at Net Freedoms Project, a special project of Agora International Human Rights Group.”
Thanks to the new laws expedited in Russia, ordinary people (who are not anti-war campaigners) can and are being prosecuted: “A joint analysis of Net Freedoms and BBC News Russia found that more than 55% of criminal cases opened under this law target ordinary citizens, as opposed to the Russian journalists, activists, and opposition figures who have long been subject to prosecution. Among the people charged with “publicly and knowingly spreading false information” about the armed forces this time are three pensioners, three police officers, two students, a teacher, a doctor, and a priest.
One of the first to be prosecuted was a grandma from Seversk who criticised the authorities in her Telegram channel. A history teacher from Barnaul had to pay about $500 for reacting to anti-war posts on Odnoklassniki (a Russian social network) with sad emojis. Luckily, he got off with an administrative fine, not a criminal trial.
“It’s a trend with social media, of being arrested for likes. It looks like with the invasion, it’s picking up more in Russia,” Natalia Krapiva, tech legal counsel at Access Now, told Future Tense. “Regular people – not just activists but anybody who says anything mildly against the war or likes something the government doesn’t like – they’re more at risk.”“
From online surveillance, Russia has now moved to using tech for offline tracking in the real world: “In June, Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations unveiled plans to spend about $265 million to deploy “Safe City” facial recognition technology in three regions bordering Ukraine. Safe City appeared in Moscow in 2020 with cameras installed in metro and train stations to scan crowds against a database of wanted individuals. (In Moscow, you can even use your face to pay for your ride.) Since the invasion, Access Now has heard reports of people detained in the Moscow metro in connection with their war-related social media posts. The evidence is anecdotal, but it suggests that facial recognition tools are being used to identify and track armchair critics of the regime.”
Not satisfied with tracking people (online and offline), the Russian Government has launched a big data project which will collect a ton of data on citizens’ behaviour and then predict in advance who are the people who have ‘protest potential’.

If you want to read our other published material, please visit

Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice. Marcellus does not seek payment for or business from this publication in any shape or form. Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services. Marcellus Investment Managers is also regulated in the United States as an Investment Advisor.

Copyright © 2022 Marcellus Investment Managers Pvt Ltd, All rights reserved.

2024 © | All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions