Russia Requires Popular Bloggers to Register

Russian president Vladimir Putin cranks down further on internet and press freedom by quietly signing into law a new “Blogger’s Law” on Monday.

According to the NY Times, the new legislation states that “any site with more than 3,000 visitors daily will be considered a media outlet akin to a newspaper and be responsible for the accuracy of the information published” and must register with the government.

What this means is that any blogger with a large following will have to register and tie what used to be somewhat anonymous speech with verifiable identification. In doing so the Russian government will be able to more closely monitor (and control) what it’s citizens are saying on the internet.

Along with reports of increased monitoring and filtering of Russian TV, news media and newspapers, this is yet another move by Putin to control free speech. And with the recent mass protests in Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine it makes you wonder if those “Pro-Russian” forces in Eastern Ukraine really understand what system that they are embracing.

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Could the next Stuxnet be a Russian/ Iranian Creation?

Stuxnet and it’s offspring has wreaked havoc with Iranian ambitions to build nuclear weapons. From being used as a spying tool and data miner to physically damaging equipment, Stuxnet et al, has really been a huge success for the US and Israel. It makes one wonder, what is next? What will be the next big cyber weapon and who will create it?

Well, it could be Russia or even Iran, but could it be a joint Russian/ Iranian creation?

Yes, I believe so, and this is why.

The Russian bear has been flexing it’s muscles again. The most recent news is that Russian attack helicopters could be on the way to Syria. Sure, this is not Iran, and Russia has sold military equipment to Syria before, but with the current turmoil in Syria and the call for Western intervention, it shows that Russia still has a strong interest in the area.

But Russian equipment is not the only asset at play here. In April, Russian Security Council head Viktor Ozerov stated that Russia has a plan to move troops through Georgia and intercede in Iran if US and/or Israel forces invade. And Russia’s former ambassador to the NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned that an attack on Iran would be a threat to Russian national security:

“Iran is our neighbor,” Rogozin said. “If Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.” Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia’s defense sector.

I believe that Georgia is the key here. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 over their breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia used a combination of electronic and kinetic attacks in the conflict. And many believe that with Putin at the reigns in Russia again, attacking Georgia again could be at the top of his list.

If Russia does send troops into Iran, Georgia would be in a key position to stop or hinder Russian supply lines:

The Russians believe that Georgia would cooperate with the United States in blocking any supplies from reaching Military Base 102, which now is supplied primarily by air. Right now, Georgia blocks the only land transportation route through which Russian military supplies could travel.

Russia has very advanced cyber capabilities, and they have shared military hardware and tech with middle east nations before. It is not a big leap to think that they could and would share cyber warfare technology with these nations. Especially if they rely on these nations for energy reserves and these nations are being threatened by US and Israeli forces.

And according to the Jerusalem Post, Iran invested a billion dollars in creating and staffing a cyber warfare unit in response to the Stuxnet and Duqu attacks. And have planned attacking US targets including nuclear power plants.

As Israel and the US worked together to build Stuxnet to stop Iranian nuclear ambitions in lieu of a physical attack. It is not out of the realm of speculation that Russia and Iran could work together to create the next Stuxnet.

(Photo Credit: Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad and Russian Pres. Putin / AP)

Putin President Again – Signs of a New Cold War?

Vladimir Putin is Russia’s president again (did he ever leave?), let Cold War 2.0 begin.

Love him or hate him, looks like Putin is the Russian president again. Though there are heavy challenges to the election’s legitimacy, and proof of voter fraud, check out these multiple votes:

The election will stand. Why? Even though his election count was surely padded, many Russians want him. I remember seeing a poll last year of Russian citizens. An overwhelming majority wanted the countries that broke away from Russian rule after being “liberated” during WWII to be returned to Russian control.

Putin wants a strong Russia and maybe even a return to the Cold War times with the US. He has pledged to increase military spending significantly. According to The Moscow News:

“His pledge included funds to build over 400 modern intercontinental ballistic missiles, 28 submarines, over 50 military surface vehicles, 600 modern warplanes, and anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.”

Putin’s reasoning?

“This is not a militarization of the Russian budget,” Putin said in an article titled: “Being strong is a guarantee of Russia’s national security,” published in the government’s official newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. “It’s obvious we cannot strengthen our international position, develop the economy and democratic institutions if we are not able to defend Russia.”

One would have to ask “Defend Russia from who?”

President Obama folded when confronted by Russia about the US missile defense shield in Europe. According to a 2009 CNN article, Poland and the Czech Republic were depending on the missile shield as protection against Russian aggression:

Poland and the Czech Republic had based much of their future security policy on getting the missile defenses from the United States. The countries share deep concerns of a future military threat from the east — namely, Russia — and may now look for other defense assurances from their NATO allies.

With Putin fully in-charge again, you can expect anti-West rhetoric to increase. Heck, even Russia’s “Pravda” news website is getting in on the action. Check out these screenshots of Pravda.ru from yesterday. Here is what Russian readers saw (translated):

A nice up-beat news spread about Putin’s election bid. Now, what did the English version of the Webpage look like?

Let’s see, we have:

  • Exposed:The handbook of American State Terrorism
  • North Korea Throws dust in the USA’s Eyes
  • Iranian Mosquitoes to bite US Navy Hard
  • Putin and the Tall Wall Against Western Mischief
  • Russia Confirms Foreign Invasion of Syria
  • Latin America prepared for US Financial Burst

A slight difference in article selections.

Well, looks like the Cold War and anti-West sentiment may heat up again, especially with Putin at the helm.