Tag Archives: Russia

Bloomberg: Russia Plans Break From Global Web

"Russian Federation (orthographic projection) - Crimea disputed" by FutureTrillionaire - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Russian_Federation_(orthographic_projection)_-_Crimea_disputed.svg#mediaviewer/File:Russian_Federation_(orthographic_projection)_-_Crimea_disputed.svg

(Source: Bloomberg)

Russia plans next week to discuss contingency measures to cut the country off from the global Internet in what the Kremlin called a necessary step to shield the nation from the U.S.-controlled worldwide Web.

Russia’s state security council will examine ways to ensure domestic users can be redirected to servers inside the country rather than relying on the U.S.-managed Internet domain-names system, the Moscow-based Coordination Center for .RU domain said by e-mail today.

“We need to defend ourselves from the U.S. and Europe,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said by phone today. “This is not about isolating ourselves, it’s about getting ready for possible cut-offs as countries that regulate the Web may act unpredictably.”

[…]Russia last month banned anonymous access to the Internet in public spaces and expanded the regulation of media to the blogosphere, requiring those with at least 3,000 daily readers to register their real names and contact information. In February the authorities had passed a law allowing them to close webpages without a court decision if material is deemed “extremist.”

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who used to criticize Putin and reveal corruption among his inner circle, was the first victim of that law when his blog on LiveJournal.com was shut in March. Recent legislation requires Internet companies to store Russian users’ information on servers in the country, similar to Chinese regulations.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg…

I expect this will only lower Russia on the Press Freedoms Index, where they are currently number 148 out of a possible 180.

This post is being tagged:  Why Shortwave Radio?

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Russian “clamps down” on US media, US to increase funding for RFE/VOA

Photo of Kremlin: ??????? ?. (Julmin) (retouched by Surendil) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Kremlin: (Julmin) (retouched by Surendil) via Wikimedia Commons

This morning, I noticed the following press release from the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG):

Russia Clamps Down Further On U.S. International Media

The Broadcasting Board of Governors has condemned a recent decision by Russian authorities to cut off all remaining radio transmissions by U.S. international media in Russia.

In a one-sentence letter dated March 21, Dmitry Kiselev, the director of the information agency Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), stated that “we are not going to cooperate” with the BBG’s request to continue a long-standing contract for broadcasting on Russian soil. Effective at the end of March, this decision removes the last vestige of Voice of America programming – including news in Russian and English-language lessons – from a local frequency in Moscow (810 AM).

“Moscow has chosen to do the wrong thing and restrict free speech,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “This is a fundamental value shared by many countries around the world. The BBG will continue to reach audiences in Russia through digital platforms and via satellite transmissions.”

Distribution of VOA and RFE/RL programming in Russia reached a high point in 2005, when VOA Russian programming was distributed on a nationwide television network and both VOA and RFE/RL had extensive partnerships with domestic Russian radio stations. But starting in that year, the Russian government turned greater attention to these stations and asked them all to re-apply for their licenses. And beginning in 2006, by denying the licenses of the stations that re-applied and intimidating the others, Russian authorities systematically eliminated domestic radio distribution of BBG-supported programs and almost all television distribution. In 2012, Russian authorities forced RFE/RL off its last remaining domestic radio outlet, an AM frequency in Moscow.

“We urge Mr. Kiselev and other Russian authorities to open Russian airwaves to more of our programs and those of other international broadcasters,” Shell added. “We’re asking for an even playing field: As Moscow’s media crackdown deepens, Russian media – including Russia Today television, which is under Mr. Kiselev’s authority – enjoy open access to the airwaves in the United States and around the world. The Russian people deserve the same freedom to access information.”

Kiselev, known for his strident anti-Western and homophobic views on Russian state television, was appointed in December 2013 to lead Russia Today. At the same time the Voice of Russia and the RIA Novosti news agency were merged into Russia Today.

The move also comes amid a fast-moving campaign to target opposition and independent media. Lists of “traitors” have been circulating in Moscow, and pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov recently added RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Radio Liberty to his “list of traitors” on Facebook. In the same vein, politonline.ru, a part of the Pravda.ru media holding, has created Russia’s first top-20 list of the most “anti-Russian” news outlets. This list, which places Radio Liberty sixth, is being shared by influential Russian political advisors such as Alexander Dugin, who wrote on his Facebook page that “this is the order in which Russia’s most contemptible media outlets will be closed or blocked.”

Russians are increasingly turning to the Internet and social media for their news. VOA’s digital strategy incorporates content across platforms. In addition to live interactives with domestic television channels, such as Russian Business Channel, VOA’s web-TV show, Podelis, allows users to connect and engage with the content in real time using social media. Podelis, which means “share” in Russian, provides a unique opportunity to engage in discussions about current events, Russian politics and U.S.-Russia relations. VOA’s social media following in Russia has grown significantly and visits to VOA’s website have doubled every year since 2008.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service provides 24 hours of radio programming via the Internet and satellite, a website that was visited more than 6.5 million times in March, and a strong presence on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. RFE/RL has started a multi-hour, daily video stream for Russia consisting of coverage of the most important events with reactions from Russian citizens as well as opinions from the West. The stream also includes live roundtable ?discussions and expert interviews on Russia.

On Wednesday, BBG Watch posted an article with details about new legislation that would increase funding for Russian, Ukrainian and Tartar language services to “counter the propaganda that is supported by Russia.”

Here’s a quote from a press release in their article:

“S. 2183 is international broadcasting legislation originally authored by Chairman [Ed] Royce (and included as Section 103 of the Ukraine Support Act (H.R. 4278) that the House passed last week). The legislation authorizes increased funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America to enable them to expand their broadcasting in Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar. This legislation requires the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to counter the propaganda that is supported by Russia and increase the number of reporters in eastern Ukraine. In addition, this legislation recognizes the threat to free media that neighboring states are under and bolsters the Balkan and Moldovan language services.”

Is it me, or is this starting to feel like the Cold War again?

I think the BBG would be wise to take a close look at the VOA Radiogram. In this case, the target audience is highly computer literate and could easily decode VOA transmissions with a simple shortwave radio and free, open-source software.

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Why shortwave? Russia blocks web pages linked to Ukraine protests

(Photo: VOA News)

(Photo: VOA News)

In response to the BBG’s request for comments on the relevancy of shortwave radio, SWLing Post reader, Rick, writes:

Here is the reason why VOA needs to keep broadcasting on shortwave.

Russia (or China or Angola or Zimbabwe or Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria) can easily block Internet access — to include, and particularly from, VOA. While shortwave can be jammed it takes a little more effort (and a considerable amount of budget to pay the electric bill for the high-powered jamming signals).

Unlike AM and FM radio transmission, shortwave transmitters can be located continents away from the strife for protection of the transmission infrastructure.

Shortwave transmission — coupled with the surreptitious distribution and proliferation of cheap shortwave radio receivers for target audiences — can help insure that the voice of freedom and democracy can continue to be heard in geopolitical hotspots throughout the world.”

Read the story Rick refers to here: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/russia-ukraine-protests-websites-internet-104171.html

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N News Agency: Voice of Russia shortwave service to close by Jan 1, 2014

VoiceOfRussiaThe Russian language N News Agency reports:

“The Russian government’s international radio broadcasting service Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) will stop its shortwave broadcasts from January 1st next year.

The shortwave service is closing due to funding cuts.  Voice of Russia is to broadcast several programs in foreign languages including Mongolian language for the last time on December 29th, 2013.[…]”

This is the second time the closure of VOR has been mentioned in the online press.

To date, I have seen no official announcement/confirmation from the Voice of Russia (though an earlier statement from VOR didn’t deny the possibility).

Many thanks to Andy Sennitt for the tip!

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Voice of Russia poll

VoiceOfRussiaTroy wites:

…I received [an email] from the Voice of Russia.  It parallels what you have reported on your blog, however in her reply Elena Osipova also sent me an attachment in the form of a “poll” or survey.  It seems she may be collecting data re: listenership habits.  I would encourage others disappointed in the VOR closure reports to email Ms. Osipova and complete the survey as well.

If you wish to participate, click here to download the poll, then send your answers to world@ruvr.ru.

Thank you, Troy, for forwarding this!

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No news is no news: a response from the Voice of Russia

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Kremilin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I wrote the Voice of Russia following the suggestion that their broadcasting on shortwave radio may soon end. A response has now arrived from the Letters Department of the VOR’s World Service.  And the current word?  Very similar to that of my previous post, though VOR confesses that the topic is presently being talked about:

This is to…inform you that the information about the presumable cancellation by the Voice of Russia of shortwave broadcasts as of January 2014 does not come from VOR’s official sources, therefore at this point we can neither confirm nor deny it since the issue is currently under discussion.

In other words, stay tuned…

Not exactly a positive note–no news is no news–but I am impressed that they are taking the time to respond to each inquiry so quickly.

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Voice Of Russia’s response to reported shortwave closure

Voice of Russia Antenna site in Wachenbrunn, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Voice of Russia Antenna site in Wachenbrunn, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Dominik, for sharing email responses he received from the Voice of Russia regarding news of their closure.

Below are two quotes from two different responses:

“Unfortunately, so far we have no official information as regards the cancellation of shortwave broadcasting. However, we cannot rule out such a scenario for the future, since currently the VOR is speedily introducing modern day technologies of radio and internet broadcasting.”

“Thank you very much for your letter and for your concern about the presumable cancellation of shortwave broadcasting by the Voice of Russia. As I said earlier, so far we have received no official information in this regard, however, we keep receiving letters from concerned listeners. Thank you very much for your support.”

Looks like they’re neither confirming nor denying the news we posted earlier.

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