You’ve probably heard of Russia’s relatively-new ‘law on bloggers’. It demands that bloggers with at least 3000 subscribers conform to state media regulations and provide personal author information, among other requirements. (I guess my tiny blog is exempt. ^^)
I’ve been reading about Russian censorship, looking for possible links to President Putin’s high approval rating. Here is what I’ve read today with some quotes and commentary. You should read the articles for yourself, too!
The ‘law on bloggers’ bans writers from lying, but ‘lying’ is tricky to define.
“If a blogger insinuates that a public official is corrupt and they can’t provide [proof] they could face very steep fines … It’s certainly not like the American law when you can call President Obama a Nazi Martian and he can’t do anything about it just because he’s a public official.”
“Starting in September 2016, if U.S.-based companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook want to operate on Russian soil, they must also be prepared to turn over data to Russian security services upon request, without a court ruling or any kind of justification.”
Although I guess Facebook, at least, would be keen to comply, since that creepy company thinks everyone should be completely transparent, anyway. (And would you look at that, I’ve just provided a splendid example of criticism without proof. See how easy it is to violate that rule?)
So in in the near future, data will have to be stored in Russia and will be readily-available to the Kremlin. What are some implications? This Businessweek article says (quoting Matthew Schaaf from Freedom House):
“It could have a serious chilling effect on online expression in Russia, making users stop to think how their Google searches and Facebook posts could be used against them.”
Also note that since February of this year, Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, can take down Web sites they deem “extremist or a threat to public order” (quoting the article.) Indeed, Roskomnadzor blocked sites of parties who were rallying against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, thus putting this new law into action.
My main question here is: does President Putin’s high approval rating have anything to do with censorship?
Actually, I feel silly for writing that. I think that’s just politics: whoever is in power will do what they can to keep their image in a good light. The right question is: How much does Russia’s censorship affect the approval rating?
Unfortunately, today’s reading hasn’t given me any answers. What I did find was this cool article from Forbes:
The author expresses surprise that approval of Putin has actually risen since the “nationalist euphoria over the ‘return’ of Crimea was at its peak.” This article, which is about a month old, cites an out-of-this-world 86% approval rating! But, the author also believes that this approval will fall shortly, assuming Russians will hold Putin accountable for whatever hardships are expected as a result of the sanctions against Russia.
I’ll have to do some more reading to see if anyone has commented on the link between censorship and this incredible 86% approval. Meanwhile, I really hope the Russian people don’t suffer because of all this..