It’s no secret that Russia is and has always been a propaganda state. Their efforts to control information and influence public opinion at home and abroad are are aggressive and extensive. But Putin’s Russia has a greater goal: to control the internet–the greatest tool in bringing about a total surveillance state.
But there’s another side to Big Comrade. It’s a legion of brilliant programmers and hackers who serve as a counterbalance to Putin’s goal of totalitarianism. It’s an epic struggle waged not with guns and bombs, but with mouse clicks and websites, disinformation, misinformation and leaks.
Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov are in a tenuous position. They are journalists in a nation where there really is no clear delineation between freedom of the press and when it’s better for your health to stop looking. Despite that uncertainty, they have investigated this fascinating interplay of technology, intelligence, commerce and freedom in brilliant style. Here’s their story: The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries. Follow their work in Russian or in English here.