Russia is quickly becoming a scary place for the enemies of the Kremlin and its leader, Vladimir Putin, whoever they declare those people to be. It coud be the rioters in Ukraine, who may be Russian, or even the people of the country with Internet access and a message. The Kremlin has taken control of the largest social network in the country, and now seeks to control what bloggers can say and do online. With encroachments into the Ukraine, first through Crimea and now through Eastern Ukraine, increased xenophobia among the citizenry, and laws against LGBT individuals, Russia is slowly transforming into a bad place to live in or around.
The new law states that all online users with more than 3,000 daily visitors are officially declared “bloggers”, and must make their full identity known. Now, that’s a lot of visitors, in fact, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but as of this writing, this blog doesn’t get 3,000 unique daily visits. On top of that, bloggers could easily avoid this law altogether by hosting their websites outside of Russia. However, how likely is Russia to allow that to continue if they want to enforce this law?
Once declared a blogger, writer will need to register with their family name and initials, as well as their email address. Once they’re registered, they’ll have to adhere to the same strict rules of the media (much of which is owned by the state), which includes no foul language, no pornography, and no libel. That last part could be used by the Kremlin to ensure that these bloggers cannot say anythng bad about state officials, true or not. Governments in the past have claimed that statements made against them were falsehoods, calling them libel. This law is clearly about limiting the freedomes of the Russian people, restricting their free speech, and gives more power to the Kremlin, slowly silencing them.
The law could still be struck down by Russia’s constitutional court for violating free speech, but there are enough conditions in the new law that a corrupt court could site as a valid reason to allow the law to continue to exist. Russia passed a law banning “homosexual propoganda”, which limits voicing support for pro-gay rights, and even actions in public that could be considered gay. Does this law violate free speech any more than that one? I’d say this law is actually less restrictive on freedomes than that one. There is still hope though, due to the worsening relations Russia has with the West, this law could be struck down by their court to save face. Who knows how long it will be until the next law like this is passed?
Source: The Verge