Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Recent Analysis and Translations:
– NATO Got Nothing From Conceding To Russia In the Past, Why Should It Cave To The Kremlin Now?
– Who is Hacking the Russian Opposition and State Media Officials — and How?
– Does it Matter if the Russian Opposition Stays United?
– Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Has Invented A Version Of History To Meet His Needs
– Getting The News From Chechnya â The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
Earlier, the Duma had voted in favor of Chaika’s continuation, although some members had wanted the allegations investigated.
But the follow-up was sent to the prosecutor general’s office itself.
Belyakov was the only MP who managed to ask Chaika whether the persons who had commissioned the film produced by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund were found. Chaika claimed the CIA and MI6 were behind the video expose, and Russian state media produced crude fabrications smearing Navalny and William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital and the main campaigner for whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, as their agent.
“Respected colleagues, I think it’s clear to everyone in our auditorium, let’s vote, why waste time.”
His activities seem to be anti-opposition, however, and not in tune with Navalny. In 2011, he asked Chaika to investigate whether Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader slain in 2015, was financed from abroad.
That same year, at an opposition meeting called Anti-Seliger, he said he found a jamming device and sent a parliamentary inquiry about it to the head of the Interior Ministry. He was also behind an effort along with Andrei Nazarov of United Russia and Maksim Rokhmistrov of the Liberal Democracy Party of Russia demanding that the prosecutor investigate Golos, and NGO which monitor elections and reported on violations.
Belyakov did not indicate what further questions he and others might have had for Chaika.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
“Today in Marseilles investigative actions will be undertaken. The process of establishing identity will take place, since the status of the British fan has sharply deteriorated. As far as we know from the information from our French colleagues, he has been declared brain dead, and in that connection certain investigative actions must be conducted.”
“Information has come from the French police that during one of the raids which local police were conducting with the purpose of securing the city during the soccer championship, they found baseball bats in an automobile with Russian plates… According to local legislation, they are equated to cold weapons. A citizen of Ukraine, a native of Kiev was behind the wheel of the car.”
Russian media outlets also cited Simon Rowntree, a parody sports commentator account with a humorous profile based on a fictional news company.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The draft amendments reflected the growing influence of news aggregators; “in their influence, they exceed media,” said Kazakov.
They defined “news aggregator” as any Internet site with an audience of more than one million users per day which formats and distributes information. The original drafters wanted to forced Yandex and others to obtain licenses at Roskomnadzor, the state censor and media manager, in order to run news aggregations, and would thus be subject to having their site blocked like other media. Their most controversial change was a demand to have news aggregators check the factual accuracy of the content disseminated.
“Yandex News is objectively limited in the capacity to check the legality and reliability of news information prepared by third parties and cannot bear responsibility for such information.”
Last week, Sergei Plugotarenko, director of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEK) which unites more than 100 Internet companies, said there were still concerns despite some improvements in the draft law regarding Roskomnadzor’s demands and the definition of “owner of a news aggregator” which was considered too vague. It wasn’t clear if social networks such as VKontakte, Facebook, Twitter and so on would be defined as “news aggregators.”
But as with other Russian laws, it was expected that these details would be worked out in the “normative acts” or the instructions for agencies as to how to implement the law.
The passage of the law indicates that the Internet business sector in Russia still has some clout to mitigate impulses from the Kremlin and docile parliament for draconian censorship burdens, yet this influence is limited. While the aggregators will be free of having to prove news collected by automatic processes is “reliable,” they will still have to monitor it for “incitement of terrorism,” pornography and so on. Yet if they are only publishing already-licensed and approved outlets, the job is expected to be lighter.
In 2014, Yandex lost 10% of its share value after President Vladimir Putin said implied a meeting with Internet business executives that the Internet was “founded by the CIA” and Yandex was pressured by foreigners on its board.