Internet – an American stratagem

Translation of Pekka Hakala‘s article that appeared on Helsingin Sanomat on April 28, 2014: Internet, tuo CIA:n juoni. Hakala is a foreign correspondent stationed in Moscow, Russia.


The Russian President Vladimir Putin had a chat with journalists broadly concerning the world affairs last week. This took place in a media forum organized by All-Russia People’s Front in St. Petersburg. This People’s Front is an umbrella organization founded by Putin before the last elections. It seemed like an election instrument and was not much heard of since.

Pavel Durov

Putin’s most humorous comment came when the internet was discussed. He said it was important that the servers for “the essential national internet resources” would be located on Russian soil in order to assure information security. “Nowadays most of data is carried through servers located in the United States where they control everything,” he said according to the ITAR-TASS news service. “The whole business [of internet] started as a special project of the CIA, and it continues as such.” Putin continued that national treasures such as the search engine Yandex and the social networking site Vkontakte must be developed to benefit Russia.

Nice progress was made in the case of Vkontakte already last week when the founder and CEO of this “Russian Facebook”, Pavel Durov, a 29 year old millionaire from St. Petersburg, was fired. Durov had previously told that the security service FSB had pressured him to provide information on the people behind the Ukrainian Euromaiden pages. After the ousting of the unruly Durov, Vkontakte can be assumed to be more compliant with the FSB. The ownership of the company has already ended in the hands of Putin’s inner circle. Durov later informed the media that he had relocated abroad permanently. His latest Facebook message was dated in Berlin.

Durov’s final sin was his refusal to shut down the Vkontakte page of Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader who has been placed in house arrest, disregarding a court order. The rules of his house arrest state that Navalny cannot use the internet – his twitter account is allegedly updated by his wife. A lower court in Moscow gave a verdict last week in a libel case against him; Navalny had accused a leader of the ruling party of corruption in his blog last November.

The court ordered him to apologize – over the internet.