Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Reining In the Runet: The Kremlin’s Struggle to Control Cyberspace
Reining In the Runet: The Kremlin’s Struggle to Control Cyberspace

Reining In the Runet: The Kremlin’s Struggle to Control Cyberspace

Reining In the Runet: The Kremlin’s Struggle to Control Cyberspace is the eighth of a series of reports in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Russia Political Economy Project. To learn more about this initiative, click here. To download the report, click here.

Executive Summary

Since 2011–2012, when the combination of the Arab Spring and anti-government demonstrations in the Russian Federation left the country’s political elites determined to bring the Russian internet, or Runet, under state control, Russia has witnessed the establishment of a domestic internet control regime encompassing four strategies of control in cyberspace. These include 1) restricting internet users’ access to problematic content and information; 2) passively deterring online dissent by limiting internet users’ anonymity; 3) actively deterring online dissent by threatening internet users with punitive sanctions; and 4) competing with and drowning out online dissent by covertly producing and disseminating pro-government content and information. This report provides an original framework for the study of Russia’s evolving domestic internet control regime as well as a guide to understanding the online struggle between Russia’s political elites and its non-systemic political opposition, an increasingly critical element of contemporary Russian politics.

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