The Kremlin has long been known for keeping tight controls on traditional types of media, like the newspaper and television. However, the internet has been able to provide an uncensored look at what is going on in Russia, as well as provided a forum for people to express their feelings about Russian politics openly. However, there have been many indications that the Kremlin and its supporters have been making attempts to create more Pro-Moscow websites and blogs. The Kremlin has begun working closely with pro-Putin/pro-Moscow sites; there has even been talk of creating a separate Russian computer network, which would undoubtedly be easy for the government to control.
The internet has soared in popularity in Russia; 25% of Russian adults now go online regularly, compared to only 8% in 2002. The internet has provided a wide variety of websites and blogs, where people can discuss and criticize the different events occurring in Russia. However, Putin and his supporters are looking to balance the opposition to his administration by teaming up with different privately owned websites, and working to create a larger and more active pro-Kremlin network. In 2004, bloggers created such a firestorm when a pro-Kremlin candidate was elected as president of Ukraine; after days of protesting in the streets, a new, pro-Western candidate was selected. Last April, however, many savvy Putin supporters rallied together to spread news of a Pro-Kremlin march over the internet later that day. Members of a youth team called the Youth Guard were also active in posting blogs about the Pro-Kremlin march; and eventually they were able to overflow the blog sites with posts about the march. Putin dismisses any rumors that the Kremlin is looking to censor the internet; however that has not surpressed many blogger's fears that the internet may soon become government-controlled.
It is no surprise to me that the Kremlin has begun infiltrating cyberspace; in fact, when I read an article about this on MSNBC, I was actually surprised to learn that the Kremlin didn't already have a great amount of control over the internet. I'm sure that Putin's government would have little trouble in creating a dominant Pro-Kremlin sphere in cyber-space; however, it seems far fetched to think that a complete government heist of the internet would be able to go down today, even in Russia. Unless the Kremlin shuts down the internet entirely, they are not going to be able to stop millions of bloggers from posting their opinions. It also seems to be the trend that more people begin posting blogs when controversial issues in the news arise, especially a political issue. Therefore, if the Kremlin begins to more vigorously pursue their internet campaign, the opposition would probably grow even more. These days,trying to take away a person's ability to blog freely, is like trying to talk off a dog a meat truck; people love their computers, and the Kremlin would not have an easy time trying to infringe on people's cyber-space rights.