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Agents Smith conducted a flashmob against censorship in the Internet

Press Release

September 30, 2009

On the Internet Day, September 30, a non-party flashmob against the attempts of the Russian authorities to introduce censorship in the Internet, restrict the use of Skype and organise criminal persecutions against bloggers took place in the centre of Moscow at the Manezh square.

Portraying Agent Smith (wearing black coats and black glasses), the protagonist of the Matrix who thought that all the people were viruses and denied freedom, the participants of the flashmob walked in circles around the Manezh Trade Centre always turning backwards (showing that the present regime has been trying to return Russia to the totalitarian past).

In the fist circle several policemen from the special police forces (OMON) joined the flashmobbers. In spite of the fact that the policemen were wearing their traditional spotted uniform they perfectly fitted into the picture. After making a circle with the flashmobbers, OMON preferred to watch the happening from the outside.

The action was prepared as a protest against criminal persecution of bloggers, however, we had to broaden the scope of topics, said Alexander Gnezdilov, member of YABLOKOs Youth Chamber with the Moscow City Duma. According to Gnezdilov, two days before the action we learned that the Ministry of Communication had prepared a draft law obliging Internet providers to cooperate with special services and to block any Internet use on their demand.

In addition, this draft law envisaged legal introduction of the term the Russian segment of the Internet which can lead to introduction of censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet, as was done in China.

Gnezdilov also noted that the flashmobbers also protested about the attempts to make Skype expensive so that people could not afford buying this service. According to Gnezdilov, Skype has been a pain in the neck for Russia secret services, as they can not bug it and Russias mobile operators are also against Skype as it is inexpensive.

Unfortunately, the political forces supporting such initiatives are in power now. They are not used to functioning in the conditions of a fair competition and they would like to turn Internet in something like modern Russias television, Gnezdilov said.

Chair of the Moscow City Duma Commission for Education and Science and member of YABLOKO Eugeni Bunimovich agreed with Gnezdilov, Internet is a space of freedom and real democracy, which irritates the authorities so much. He also stressed that this also implies that we should fight against terrorist ideas and pornography in the Internet, as well as in the reality. According to Bunimovich, the [Russian] society receives the most objective political, social and even everyday information in the Internet. Internet communities of teachers, journalists, doctors, cyclists, young people, etc. turn into real nucleuses of civil society, Bunimovich said.

Photographs from the action see at the Moscow YABLOKO web-site

See also:

Overcoming Stalins Legacy

Human Rights



September 30, 2009