CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Russia

2010


Blog   |   Burma, China, Internet, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Russia, Sweden, Tunisia

Protecting yourself from denial-of-service attacks

It's my second link to a report by Hal Roberts (and others at the Berkman Center) in as many days, but I worry that this this detailed document on denial-of-service (DOS) and hacking attacks on independent media and human rights groups might get missed in the holiday season.

The news headlines in the last few weeks have been full of stories of how DOS attacks can bring down even high-profile websites, often with relatively little technical expertise on behalf of the attackers. Such attacks are nothing new to online journalists across the world, however. Just this year, CPJ has dealt with cases of independent news sites being taken offline by remote Internet attacks in China, Burma, Vietnam, Russia, Kazakhstan, and now Belarus.

The Berkman Center's report details over three hundred other cases from 1998 onwards, from Sweden to North Korea. More important, the researchers interviewed the victims of these attacks, and categorized what defenses were practical and effective -- and what did not work.

If you're an online journalist with powerful opponents, I'd strongly encourage you to read this document and pass it along to your tech-savvy associates. Even a small amount of preparation can help keep vital news and opinion available online when you -- and your readers -- most need it.

December 21, 2010 3:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Internet, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Fighting bogus piracy raids, Microsoft issues new licenses

CPJ has documented for several years the use of spurious anti-piracy raids to shut down and intimidate media organizations in Russia and the former Soviet republics. Offices have been shut down, and computers seized. Often, security agents make bogus claims to be representing or acting on behalf of the U.S. software company Microsoft.

December 7, 2010 3:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela

CPJ Press Freedom Awardee: 'I always wanted answers'

Left to right: Nadira Isayeva, Dawit Kebede, and Laureano Márquez in Washington. (CPJ/Rodney Lamkey Jr.)

The last few weeks have been extremely busy for everyone at CPJ as we've been preparing for the 2010 International Press Freedom Awards. Today's press conference in Washington will be followed by a series of events culminating in our awards ceremony Tuesday in New York. As always, the awardees make it special. 

Blog   |   Journalist Assistance, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Russia, Uganda

Help journalists in need: An appeal

Beketov must be transported to trial in an ambulance while his attackers walk free. (Foundation in Support of Mikhail Beketov)

Mikhail Beketov is lucky to be alive, although I'm sure there are days when he doesn't think so. On November 13, 2008, the environmental reporter who campaigned against a highway that would have destroyed a forest in Khimki, a town outside Moscow, was beaten nearly to death by men with metal bars. The attackers made a special effort to destroy his hands and left him to die in the November cold. He would have if neighbors had not noticed him and called the police 24 hours after the attack.

Blog   |   India, Internet, Russia, South Korea, UK

Internet blotter

October 22, 2010 4:18 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, India, Internet, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Use your Blackberry to map global surveillance

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has announced a research project to analyze the global infrastructure of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. It's looking for BlackBerry users from any country to take part--especially those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Russia and China.

All of these countries have at some point demanded that RIM make their BlackBerry network more surveillance-friendly. Some have threatened to ban BlackBerry services outright if their demands are not met. Other reports suggest that RIM has made concessions to some of these countries' demands.

One possible concession RIM might make is to move its Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) servers to locations within those countries' jurisdictions. BIS servers are the bridges between the internal BlackBerry network and the wider Internet. A locally-hosted BIS server would make it easier for domestic security services to monitor BlackBerry users' general Web traffic.

RIM has kept quiet about what agreements, if any, it has made with any government. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to work out the location of these BIS servers externally. If you're a journalist who uses a BlackBerry, all you have to do to help with this project is to visit the RimCheck website using your BlackBerry device and fill out a short form. The site will record the IP address of the machine your request comes from, and will attempt to determine where in the world that server could be located.

The conclusions that the RIM Check project draws from this study will be published when the group has collected enough data. Concrete statistics like this will mean we'll finally be able to see if BlackBerry's send their data exclusively through Canadian servers as some believe or whether RIM has distributed these servers globally--potentially allowing users' unencrypted Net traffic to be as monitorable as that sent through a local Internet service provider.
October 21, 2010 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   Russia

Mission Journal: A visit to Russia's Supreme Court

Chief Justice Vyacheslav M. Lebedev of Russia's Supreme Court told CPJ, "The independence of journalists is just as important as the independence of judges." (Reuters/Mackson Wasa)

At the end of our recent mission to Moscow, our delegation squeezed in one final official meeting. Vyacheslav M. Lebedev, the chief justice of Russia's Supreme Court, had sent word only the night before that he would receive us. The meeting had been brokered by Aleksei Venediktov, the legendary founder of the radio station Ekho Moskvy, who told us that Lebedev had a keen interest in freedom of expression issues.

Blog   |   CPJ, Russia

Russian journalists detail FSB and 'New Nobility'

How do you crack Russia's vaunted security service? You go to low- and mid-level officials for information, say Russian journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, authors of the new book, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. At a luncheon for CPJ supporters on Thursday, Soldatov and Borogan detailed how today's Federal Security Service, or FSB, enjoys the impunity of the noble classes of bygone eras. And, of course, the authors discussed how they managed to get information about the secretive agency.

October 8, 2010 9:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Russia

Mission Journal: Visiting Mikhail Beketov

In Moscow, progress is often followed by heartbreak. So it was on the day after our meeting with Russia's top investigator, when we hit the wall of Russia's dysfunctional criminal justice system.

Blog   |   Russia

Russian police selectively target media's 'pirated' software

Western companies that venture into Russia ought to remember this police rule: "Everything you say can and will be used against you." In this particular case--any attempt to bring civilized rules to the Russian market game could, instead, turn into a colossal blow to your image. 

September 20, 2010 4:36 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Kyrgyzstan, Russia

Microsoft moves to fight anti-piracy raids in Russia

Microsoft's Brad Smith (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)On September 11, The New York Times reported on the use of aggressive anti-piracy raids by Russian authorities to intimidate advocacy groups and independent media outlets. The article noted that these raids are usually prompted by false reports of pirated Microsoft software, sometimes from individuals claiming to represent Microsoft. This is a trend that CPJ has documented for some time. We've recorded incidents of independent outlets like Novaya GazetaTolyatinskoye ObozreniyeMinuty Veka, and Kyrgyzstan's STAN TV having offices shut down and computers seized on the orders of lawyers claiming to be acting for Microsoft, even when the companies' software licenses are in order and shown to the investigators.

Blog   |   Internet, Russia

The Economist: The Invisible Regional Censorship of Russia

Russian federal law doesn't include Internet censorship provisions, but there's been a recent rash of cases of court-ordered blocking in individual Russian regions. Even though these are usually narrow blocks of particular sites and are quickly unblocked after media exposure, they can still cover a great deal of ground. The Republic of Ingushetia blocked the whole of LiveJournal, the commercial site which hosts thousands of Russian blogs, over two weeks this July.

August 28, 2010 5:10 AM ET

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Blog   |   Russia

Trial upcoming for two suspects in Moscow double murder

A vigil for Anastasiya Baburova and Stanislav Markelov was held in January in Berlin. (AP/Franka Bruns)In an encouraging ruling last week, the Basmanny District Court in Moscow ordered that two suspects in the January 2009 double murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasiya Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov be kept in custody pending trial.

August 25, 2010 5:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Egypt, Haiti, Pakistan, Russia, Security, USA

Global Media Forum cites risks of environmental reporting

Fishermen on the Nile, where chemical dumping has been reported. (AP/Ben Curtis) He's young,
unemployed and carries himself with the innocence of a man who hasn't spent
much time outside his own village. But Egyptian blogger Tamer
Mabrouk
is the real deal. Appearing at an international media conference in Bonn, Mabrouk's description of chemical dumping into a
brackish lagoon on the northern Nile Delta near the Mediterranean Sea was
punctuated by photos of unmistakable filth. He won over the audience when, in
response to a question on how one travels with sensitive material, Tamer deftly
removed a memory card secreted in an electronic device and held it in the air.
That, he said, is where he had carried documents for this trip.

Blog   |   China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela

As dissidents move online, governments fight back

A new show on PBS says the problem with the rise in cyber dissent is that governments like Iran are "pretty good at social media too."Social media and cyber dissidents have exerted a increasing influence on global politics over the last few years—Twitter, for instance, was widely utilized by protesters and journalists during Iran’s 2009 post-election Green Movement, and China has been locked in conflict with Google over allegations of censorship and hacking. “Ideas in Action” with Jim Glassman, a half-hour weekly show on PBS, is airing an episode this weekend called “Cyber Dissidents: How the Internet is Changing Dissent.” Already online, the show details how authoritarian regimes are working hard to quash this rising form of opposition.

Blog   |   Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan

CPJ testimony: Threats to free media in the OSCE region

Kazakhstan, the current chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has failed to live up to its press freedom commitments, CPJ’s Muzaffar Suleymanov told the Congressional Helsinki Commission in Washington today.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, CPJ, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, USA

Jon Lee Anderson on courage and journalism

Last week, I attended an unusual event called the Courage Forum at which half a dozen speakers, from tightrope artist Philippe Petit and Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal to Virgin founder and chairman Richard Branson, talked about about overcoming fear.

May 12, 2010 10:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Russia, USA

At Lantos commission, CPJ details Russian press climate

A bill pending in the Russian parliament would give state security alarming new censorship powers, CPJ’s Nina Ognianova told the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in testimony in Washington today. During a hearing on human rights issues in Russia, Ognianova also voiced concern about continued impunity in journalist murders. 

May 6, 2010 1:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Colombia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia

Impunity Summit: Solidarity in fighting journalist murders

María Teresa Ronderos and Sergei Sokolov at CPJ's Impunity Summit at Columbia. (CPJ)

Every day at CPJ, we count numbers: 18 journalists killed in Russia since 2000, 32 journalists and media workers slaughtered in the Maguindanao massacre, 88 journalists murdered over the last 10 years in Iraq. But on Tuesday night at CPJ’s Impunity Summit at Columbia University, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon clarified why we were gathered: “At the end of the day, it’s not about numbers,” he said. “It’s about people.”

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