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Published On: Fri, May 19th, 2017

Russia’s “National Guard” to monitor social networks: Melikov

nsnbc : Russia’s National Guard is planning to train IT experts to monitor social networks, said the first deputy commander of the National Guard Sergei Melikov. according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Internet of Things_Surveillance_SP_OC_2016The Interfax news agency cited Melikov in an article published on Friday saying the National Guard is planning to train experts and specialists to monitor social networks. “We’re looking at areas of work we would like to develop. … Mainly social media monitoring,” said Melikov.

The latest potential crackdown on privacy and civil liberties is being sold under the banner of security, using the claim that monitoring social networks would help the law enforcement agency to prevent attacks against the national guard like the one in the Republic of Chechnya in late March this year.

Six soldiers were killed and three were injured during an overnight raid on Stanitsa Naurskaya, a military town in the north of Chechnya. A group of insurgents attempted to enter Stanitsa Naurskaya. Russian forces effectively countered the offensive, but six soldiers died during the battle.

Melikov noted that “We realize that insurgents were coordinated remotely, including via social networks,” and claimed that if National Guard had intercepted their communication, the attack could have been prevented, he added.

Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2016, criticized the United States for monitoring all of its citizens while boasting that in Russia, there is the rule of law, and people can only be monitored in individual cases, based on individual authorization. The statement flies into the face of Melikov’s announcement and a report released by Agora.

The international human rights group Agora,  in a report released in February this year, disclosed that the situation with internet freedom in Russia has been worsening in recent years. Since the beginning of 2015, at least 47 people have been imprisoned for their statements online. Many more saw their websites and blogs classified as extremist or blocked by the government. Others received threats or were subjected to physical violence after expressing their views online. 

In its report, Agora stressed that the state’s attitude toward the internet has become increasingly hostile, and that “The Internet is perceived as a battleground by Russian authorities.”

CH/L – nsnbc 19.05.2017

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