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With Just Over 50 Entries, Kremlin Blogger Registry Gets No Love

New Internet laws in Russia  may be just a front for attacks on independent thought. Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

New Internet laws in Russia may be just a front for attacks on independent thought. Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

Russia's notorious blogger law now requires popular bloggers to register on a state-approved list. But a recent leak shows that only 52 entries have been added to the registry since it started operations over two months ago.

Internet news website TJournal first reported on the suspiciously low registration numbers when it received the registry leak from Golden Boy, an anonymous online provocateur. TJournal then published the full registered bloggers’ list on Pastebin.

The list boasts Roskomnadzor's own Twitter account, and a handful of other Kremlin-loyal Internet personalities, like Duma deputy Maria Kozhevnikova (her Instagram, Twitter and VKontakte accounts are on the list), Communications minister Nikolay Nikiforov (Twitter and Instagram), and Ashot Gabrelyanov, CEO of News Media and director of LifeNews TV channel.

Other websites on the blogger registry include popular VKontakte communities, like image-and-humor-heavy Pikabu, movie community KinoPoisk, and the VK page of singer Victoria Daineko.

Not all entries on the registry are social media pages: the two opposition-flavored blogs, run by writer Victor Shenderovich and economist (and former Putin advisor) Andrey Illarionov, are both hosted on the Echo of Moscow website.

Roskomnadzor has a public search tool for its registry of blacklisted/banned websites, but the complete content of the new blogger registry only became public knowledge with the leak. There is a form on the registry website where you can search for a particular URL or last name to see if a specific blogger or platform has been added to the registry. The registry of companies and services defined as “organizers of dissemination of information” can also be searched in a separate form.

In the end, the leaked blogger list turned out to be available on the Roskomnadzor website: Artyom Kozlyuk, head of RosKomSvoboda initiative, said he discovered the data a few days earlier. However, the format of the “open” data is not easily searchable, and the fact of the publication was not advertized, so the openness of Roskomnadzor still leaves much to be desired.

After the leaked list of registered bloggers was published, Roskomnadzor's press-secretary Vadim Ampelonskiy said that all the bloggers and websites were added to the list based on requests, sent either by the bloggers themselves or by “concerned” third parties. With only 52 entries on the list, it looks like the bloggers aren't too eager to register with the state, while the “concerned” third parties aren't using enough elbow grease to submit registration requests for popular pages.

The RuNet users have voiced their surprize at the number of registered bloggers/blogs, and speculated that the law which mandates the registry is useless.

Можно с уверенностью сказать что закон не работает. Так какого хуя его приняли, если не могут его исполнять?

We can say with certainty that the law is not working. So why the fuck did they adopt it if they can't implement it?

Some netizens, however, saw through the superficial aims of the recent Internet-related legislation and recognized the law for what it is: a tool of political pressure.

Вы не поняли
Он будет работать в нужный момент для нужных людей

You don't get it.
It will work when necessary for necessary people.

As with other web-related debates in Russia, be it the Internet ‘kill switch’ or the data retention and storage legislation, the suggested rules and regulations come with a ‘false bottom.’ The rhetoric of security and user safety, stoked by myths of an evil Western plot to spoil Russia's online fun, covers up the Kremlin's desire for complete control over online discourse and its distaste for alternative opinions. The blogger registry law may not work simply because it was never meant to work properly. Instead, it will be a Potemkin village—a colorful but two-dimensional coverup for the state's political attacks on those who dare to cross it, online or offline.

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