| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

LiveJournal users fear election crackdown

The biggest-ever hack attack on LiveJournal, the world's biggest blogging network, and its prominent opposition voices, has prompted bloggers to fear a new wave of shut-offs closer to the elections.

Last week, from Monday to Friday, a massive series of DDoS attacks, believed to emanate from computers in Latin America, hit LiveJournal's Qwest and Verizon servers ­ hitting the network's most prominent anti-government critics, including anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.

The bloggers are hitting back, however, accusing authorities of wanting to quieten opposition in the run-up to the elections ­ but insisting the clampdown would be unsuccessful.

"I suppose that the attacks will continue, because their purpose is to prevent the dissemination of information about corruption, the party of crooks and thieves [United Russia], blue buckets... Sagra, Ramzan Kadyrov's whims and so on," Navalny wrote on his LiveJournal page. "Nothing can be done about it. We will continue to expose the crooks, and they will hinder exposures."

Similar attacks on LiveJournal took place in March and were then called the worst in its history. Last week's attacks, however, were even worse. Hackers shut LiveJournal down for a whole week, starting July 25.

While SUP specialists were doing their best to restore service, Internet users have been actively discussing possible reasons for the attacks. One of the most popular theories was that the attacks were a response to some radical opposition posts by Navalny and other bloggers.

"I don't see any commercial motive in the attacks. I can't think of anyone who would benefit from LiveJournal's work being interrupted from a business point of view. It seems there should be some other motive," Ivan Zassoursky, editor-inchief of Chastny Korrespondent, told The Moscow News. "I think it's a pre-election [thing]."

Zassoursky said the aim of the attacks was not to destroy the network permanently, but to show that it was not reliable as an instrument. "There are hardly any independent media in Russia," he said. "LiveJournal is unique because it unites independent journalists ­ [this means] they can be shut off altogether."

Alexander Arkhangelsky, a political commentator for RIA Novosti, drew parallels with the situation in Egypt, when the Internet was shut down for the entire country.

LiveJournal was attacked "not because of something, but for some reason," Arkhangelsky wrote in his blog for RIA Novosti. "In case of turmoil like in Egypt or Tunisia, the weapon of virtual destruction can be used quickly and consistently without shutting down the whole Internet."

Arkhangelsky added that it would not prevent prominent bloggers such as Navalny getting their message out, due to their high profiles, but "someone wants to destroy the opportunity of [new] Navalnys ripening in the garrulous and glib Internet community."

However, some prominent computer entrepreneurs disagreed with the conspiracy theory about the Live- Journal attacks. Yevgeny Kaspersky and Alexei Exler said the reasons for the failure of LiveJournal might be technical rather than political.

"In the end the patient is rather DeadJournal than LiveJournal," Kaspersky wrote on his standalone page, which he is now using instead of a LiveJournal account. "It looks like the problems are clinical. And to solve them not only the technical part should be upgraded, but also the part where the fish starts to rot," in an apparent reference to the "head" of the forum ­ SUP, the company that runs LiveJournal.

Meanwhile, many bloggers are developing new ways to express and share their views. Some, following Kaspersky's example, are starting their own websites, while others are creating Facebook and Google+ accounts.

"Until I had a strong reason to believe it, I didn't have to worry about any alternative [places to blog]," wellknown blogger Anton Nosik wrote. "When the heating or sewage system is being repaired in your apartment you can move out for a couple of days, but there is no serious need to think about a new permanent home, if the current one suits you. Unfortunately, the situation changes radically when you realize that your house is to be demolished and the bulldozers are on their way."

Keyword Tags:

Russia, Media, Internet - Russia, Government, Politics - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet