Circling the Lion's Den

Why the Kremlin Blocking TOR Is a Big Deal

Like many significant political developments of late, the decision to block TOR came almost unannounced by the Russian authorities. Russian internet users spotted the blocking of TOR, and it was only after their numerous complaints that activists and journalists spotted the threat Roskomnadzor had published three days before. / December 2021 /    Read more -->

Recent Issues

The Compatriots came out
The authors of The Red Web Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan examine the shifting role of Russian expatriates throughout history, and their complicated, unbreakable relationship with the mother countrybe it antagonistic or far too chummy. / October 2019 /

The Red Web Comes to The United States
An excerpt from "The Red Web: The Kremlin's Wars on The Internet".

The Russian state and surveillance technology
The Russian blogosphere has burgeoned into a open-door sanctuary for all strands of political opinion. Predictably, it has also attracted the attention of the country's security services. Our first in a series of investigations outlining how the Russian state is now monitoring its online public.

The Kremlin and the hackers: partners in crime?
The recent Russian parliamentary and presidential elections were notable for the wide use of cyber attacks on the websites of the liberal media, as well as opposition hackers accessing officials email exchanges.

Nikita Petrov: The FSB has no concept of its own history
Nikita Petrov: The FSB has no concept of its own history Nikita Petrov, Soviet Secret Services'...

WikiLeaks case highlights crisis in journalism
WikiLeaks case highlights crisis in journalism Andrei Soldatov, Irina Borogan The phenomenal attention...

Spies in the British parliament a defector's trail?
Spies in the British parliament a defector's trail? Andrei Soldatov The story of Katia Zatuliveter,...

FSB Headquarters, Lubyanka
FSB Headquarters, Lubyanka In the late ninteenth century, Great Lubyanka Street became a street of...

Control over society: the Kremlin methods


The New Nobility

Why Is Russia Not Using Pegasus Spyware?

When a group of international investigative journalists and researchers broke the news that spyware called Pegasus, produced by the Israeli NSO Group, had helped repressive governments across the world spy on journalists, activists and lawyers on an unprecedented scale, the question emerged: Where was Russia? / July 2021 /

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Back Door to Preliminary Censorship

Russias bureaucracy has become obsessed with the concept of registers. There are registers for everything, and every month new registers appear. Only in June, the countrys internet censorship agency Roskomnadzor got the go-ahead from the Duma to launch six new registers -- listing foreign internet resources that are significant for Russians, foreign websites to which money transfers are prohibited, foreign payment systems serving prohibited sites, sites whose audience is to be measured, advertising data operators and cross border cables. / June 2021 /

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Russias Red Boxes Menace the Internet

The Kremlin is using the Sovereign Internet system to harass first Twitter and now Google and to force it to take down YouTube videos the Kremlin dislikes. This offensive wont stop with Twitter and Google, neither will it be limited to Russias borders Rashid Ismailovs ITU candidacy being the proof. / June 2021 /

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Can the U.S. Still Cooperate With Russia's Security Agencies?

The cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline once again raised the cursed question many law enforcement agencies around the world are asking these days: How they are supposed to cooperate with their counterparts in countries where there isnt a clear line between the criminal police and political police? Treating the FSB as a possible partner is again on the agenda. And that means that from now on, every major cyber-attack attributed to Russian criminal hackers will play into the hands of the Kremlin. / May 2021 /

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What Has Become of the GRU?

Two striking facts from a Czech investigation into the GRUs role in the 2014 explosions of ammunition depots in the village of Vrbetice shed light on how the GRU has developed over the years. First, investigators learned that GRU agents organized the two explosions that claimed human lives on the territory of a European country. This was part of an operation to poison Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, thereby disrupting the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Second, it turned out that the same two GRU operatives who had attempted to poison Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom personally arranged the explosions. / April 2021 /

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Russias Pursuit of Internet Sovereignty Backfires, Again

Wednesday on March 10 was supposed to be a big day for Andrei Lipov, a 51-year-old Russian top official trusted with the Kremlins most sensitive internet initiatives. However, later the same day it became clear that a Kremlin attempt to slow down Twitter caused government websites to crash and raised new questions about its ambitious plans to regulate the internet. / March 2021 /

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Russias Secret Organizations Are Not Secret Anymore

There seems to be a global shift in the secret services world these days the Russian organizations are not that secret anymore. They do conduct secret operations, but then they routinely and inevitably get exposed the rank-and-file members involved, the departments in charge and the substances and technologies they use, at home or abroad. This has become a common practice for many of the Kremlins supposedly secret and sensitive operations, in cases from cyberattacks to poisonings. And the Kremlin and secret services seem to have adjusted to this new reality just fine. / December 2020 /

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Drink Me: The Kremlin's Long, Evil History of Poisoning Its Enemies

When German authorities announced that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, then still in intensive care at the Charité hospital in Berlin, had been poisoned in Siberia with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, the Kremlins involvement became almost impossible to deny. The Russian authorities vehemently denied the German diagnosis, which struck many as illogical. Why use a bespoke toxin, which is internationally known as poison developed and deployed by the Russian government? / October 2020 /

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