Circling the Lion's Den

Putin Assembles a Congress of Losers

The statements that President Vladimir Putin made at a recent meeting with leaders of the Russian Internet are hardly worth discussing. As usual, he offered only vague assurances of support for a variety of freedoms while pretending that all of the recent legislative initiatives tightening control over the Internet were designed exclusively to fight pedophiles, drugs, terrorism and suicide. What is worth discussing is the position of the Internet industry leaders themselves. / June 20, 2014 /   Read more -->

Recent Issues

Just business: how Russian technology provides the eyes and ears for the worlds Big Brothers
In December 2011, Wikileaks released Spy Files, a project revealing details of the burgeoning surveillance and interception industry. The list of companies providing high-tech equipment to governments included a number of Russian firms, which are emerging as global leaders in the industry.

A near doubling in Russian wiretaps over five years
In a previous article, we asked who was bugging the Russian opposition. Here we develop this theme, looking at how a combination of recent legislation and new technology has allowed Russias many security agencies to expand their activities still further. / June 4 2012 /

The Kremlin and the hackers: partners in crime?
The recent Russian parliamentary and presidential elections were notable for the wide use of cyber attacks on the websites of the liberal media, as well as opposition hackers accessing officials email exchanges.

The Russian state and surveillance technology
The Russian blogosphere has burgeoned into a open-door sanctuary for all strands of political opinion. Predictably, it has also attracted the attention of the country's security services. Our first in a series of investigations outlining how the Russian state is now monitoring its online public.

Domodedovo Airport attacked by a suicide bomber
Domodedovo Airport attacked by a suicide bomber On January 24, at approximately 16:30, a blast ripped...

Nikita Petrov: The FSB has no concept of its own history
Nikita Petrov: The FSB has no concept of its own history Nikita Petrov, Soviet Secret Services'...

WikiLeaks case highlights crisis in journalism
WikiLeaks case highlights crisis in journalism Andrei Soldatov, Irina Borogan The phenomenal attention...

Spies in the British parliament a defector's trail?
Spies in the British parliament a defector's trail? Andrei Soldatov The story of Katia Zatuliveter,...

FSB Headquarters, Lubyanka
FSB Headquarters, Lubyanka In the late ninteenth century, Great Lubyanka Street became a street of...

Control over society: the Kremlin methods


The New Nobility

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald: A review

Unlike the Brits [Luke Harding and Edward Lucas], Greenwald communicated with Edward Snowden; the first time face to face in Hong Kong in May 2013, and the last time only several days ago here in Moscow. And it was he who was chosen by Snowden for publicizing his exposes to The Guardian. However, despite this important advantage, the main thing in Greenwalds book is what is not in it. Excerpts from Andrei Soldatovs critical review of Glenn Greenwalds 'No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State' at vozduh.afisha, an independent cultural and entertainment site owned by, translated by The Interpreter. / May 31, 2014 /

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Putin, the Internet, and Popular Conspiracies

President Vladimir Putin, who had previously shown complete indifference to the Internet, has suddenly given an exhaustive explanation of his position on the subject. It has thus become clear that on key issues, Putin remains the same mid-level KGB officer that he was in the late 1980s. On April 24, Putin said that "the Internet first appeared as a special CIA project," and although it later went on the open market, it was "initially a military program, a special program, and special services are still at the center of things." / May 4, 2014 /

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The True Role of the FSB in the Ukrainian Crisis

The intrigue is growing over the Federal Security Service's involvement in Ukraine. On April 11, Ukraine's Deputy Prosecutor General said there was no evidence implicating the FSB in events on Maidan Square. At the same time, it is officially confirmed that FSB generals visited Kiev on Feb. 20 to 21. The answer as to why FSB officers were in Kiev could be key to understanding the role of Russia's intelligence agencies in the current crisis and to the Kremlin's entire strategy in Ukraine./ April 16, 2014 /

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Putins Plan to Gut the Press

Forget investigative reporting, even critical commentary is now out of bounds as the Kremlin clamps down on Web news sites. Until this week, a handful of websites seemed to be the last bastions of the free press in Russia. But on Thursday those bastions fell. The Kremlin blocked three independent news sites, including one run by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, as well as a widely read investigative blog,, by Alexei Navalny. / March 17, 2014 /

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Why We Should Care About Russias Stance on the Internet

How can we reduce American influence over the Internet? Is it possible to place boundaries on the global network and, if so, how? Today, in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, these are among the most prominent questions in the global debate on Internet regulation. Surprisingly, it appears that it is Russia rather than Chinathe established world authority on Internet censorshipleading this offensive on the Internet. /March 12, 2014/

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FSB Makes Eavesdropping an Olympic Event

The Olympic Games in Sochi have helped the Federal Security Service, or FSB, achieve the impossible. Following the disclosures by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the global debate over electronic surveillance focused largely on the NSA. But a new player has appeared on the global stage: Russia's total electronic surveillance system for the Olympics has put this country's intelligence agencies in the spotlight. /February 6, 2014/

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Volgograd and an Olympics under threat

When Dokku Umarov, the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, issued a statement six months ago promising a strike on the Olympics in Sochi, Russian authorities were faced with two major questions. Experts and the secret services asked whether militants still possessed the capabilities to hit beyond the North Caucasus, and whether they had recruits willing to carry out suicide bombing attacks. Now both of those questions have been answered. /December 31. 2013/

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FSB's metadata collection at the Sochi Olympics

As the date for the Olympic Games in Sochi draws closer, Russia's siloviki are becoming more active in terms of collecting data from Russians and foreigners. Although they can at least partially justify their decision to register every Russian who comes to Sochi during the Olympics with the desire to prevent terrorist attacks, the decree that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed Nov. 8 has no relationship whatsoever to that goal. That decree expressly authorizes the government to collect data on telephone calls and Internet contacts made by the Olympic Games' organizers, athletes and foreign journalists. / November 22. 2013 /

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