Massive cyber attacks on popular Russian sites

April 8th, 2011   Articles | Russia

The two Russian most popular sites such as LiveJournal and independent opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s webpage have been inaccessible for most of the past week, as hackers continue to attack their servers. LiveJournal.ru, Russia’s major online debate forum with about 4 million users, is frequently a venue for open and political discussions.

Many security experts have speculated that the initial target of the cyber attack on the LiveJournal was likely Alexei Navalny, who has a very popular anti-corruption blog on the LiveJournal-site. Alexei Navalny has come under recent increased international attention, as he was featured in the American newspapers New York Times, and New Yorker Magazine within the last several weeks.

Most of Russia’s opposition politicians and social activists keep blogs on LiveJournal, where they rally support for their ideas and activities as well as comment on current events. “LiveJournal is really a zone of freedom, and the attack on it is a preparation for parliamentary and presidential elections. It is pure politics,” opposition politician Boris Nemtsov said on Finam FM radio this week.

LiveJournal is now up and running as usual. However, another cyber attack has paralysed the website of Russia’a leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The newspaper’s webpage is currently inaccessible; as a result the website may soon be moved to a different host, according to Dmitri Muratov, the chief editor of the newspaper. He also said that the newspaper was being targeted for its investigative journalism and new project called the Online Parliament – Runet. Runet is a commonly used name for the Russian Internet. It is comparatively free from Government control and used as an outlet by opposition activists.

The aim of the Online Parliament project is to bring some of Russia’s most popular bloggers, including jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, into a kind of an alternative Parliament.

Dmitri Muratov said the attack on the paper’s website ought to be investigated by police in accordance with a law in the Russian Federation which guarantees security and protection on the Internet. Any kind of cyber attack is a criminal act in accordance with article 273 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation The article provides for imprisonment up to seven years.

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