GENERICO.ruRussiaConcentrating in the hands of the immense VK

Concentrating in the hands of the immense VK

… Photo: Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

38-year-old Vladimir Kiriyenko, the son of the first deputy head of the presidential administration, has been appointed the new general director of VKontakte, which means that VK is now facing tasks of truly national importance. After 2016, Kiriyenko Jr. worked as a senior vice president of Rostelecom, the largest Russian provider, claiming the role of a monopolist in the Sovereign. The chairman of the board of directors of Rostelecom, 38% of which is controlled by the state, is Sergei Ivanov, who in 2007 competed with Dmitry Medvedev for the status of Putin's successor as president. It is ironic that Kiriyenko replaced Boris Dobrodeev, the son of the VGTRK general director, in the post.

Having gained control over VKontakte and putting Kiriyenko's son as the frontman of the project, Gazprom-Media becomes the No. 1 player in the Sovereign, integrating all stages of the digital existence of Russian citizens – from Rostelecom wires and equipment installed at communication centers to filter traffic and censorship, to the newest domestic “analogue of TikTok” under the vague name Yappy.

The figure has been put under arms by the Russian state. The fundamental question of loyalty to the principles of the Sovereign is sealed by dynastic inheritance in the person of Kiriyenko Jr. In this story, the state no longer simply solves its propaganda tasks, but establishes a fundamentally new order of things, in which every bit of information that has passed through Russian networks is declared the property of the Russian Federation and is used to extract profit in the interests of state dignitaries. At the same time, profits are obtained according to the model of high-tech Western companies (“advanced foreign experience”), but in such conditions when police coercion has completely replaced competition.

Photo: Vedomosti >

Last week, Roskomnadzor attacked Tor, attempting to disable network nodes and thereby block the notorious “blocking bypass methods.” The results of the attack, or rather a test of the new capabilities of Russian officials to filter user traffic, are not yet clear. At the same time, the Ministry of Digital Science offered Western Internet companies (first of all, YouTube) to pay Russian providers for delivering their traffic to consumers. Payments from consumers in this logic are no longer enough, Russian monopolists have to enrich themselves twice – probably under the threat of disconnecting users from “malicious defaulters”.

The movement towards the “Chinese scenario”, in which 99% of users within the country use exclusively domestic digital services, has started in earnest.

The only question is whether the Russian authorities have begun to build your own Great Digital Wall.

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