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Internet Day Marked With Outreach, Censorship


Russia Marking Internet Day

Numerous users of Runet, the Russian-language segment of the worldwide web, are marking the Internet Day on Wednesday, September 30.

The date is not an officially registered professional or public event yet and it is largely the product of a public initiative, which quite well falls in line with the Internet's highly democratic spirit.

It is believed that the Internet was incepted in 1969 in the U.S. where a computer network was designed for a reliable transmission of data during a nuclear war.

From that time on, the Internet has been developing quite successfully and it covers more than a quarter of the entire humankind today.

The first Soviet/Russian domain name - SU - was registered in 1990, and on April 4, 1994, Russia's national domain RU went into effect.

This coming winter, the Russian community of web users expects the arrival of the national Cyrillic domain RF.

Over the decades that have elapsed since its advent, the Internet has turned into an inalienable asset of life for many Russians. Like in all other parts of the planet, the worldwide web has transformed into a mass information medium, a place where people do business, familiarize themselves with culture, or simply maintain interpersonal communications.

The Ministry of Telecommunications says that 47 million Russians used Internet at the beginning of 2009. Forecasts indicate the figure may go up by a third in the next twelve months.

In March 2009, a two-millionth website with the "ru" domain name was registered.

The year-by-year study of the number of users reveals a steep upward dynamics, as the Runet community numbered a mere 12 to 14 million users in 2004 and only a million users in 1998.

Also, Russia has impressive achievements in this sphere, like the internationally recognized brand of the Kaspersky Laboratory anti-virus agency or the Russian-language portal Yandex that confidently competes with Google.

Almost all schools in this country have computers connected to the Internet.

In the meantime, the web has a broad space for development and improvement in Russia.

Although more than a third of customers enjoy broadband access, the connection speed in most urban centers here, except Moscow and St Petersburg, remains rather slow.

The volume of Russia's e-market totaled 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 and e-commerce stood at around 2.5 billion dollars. Although the figures are not bad, they stand far behind the global standards that show hundreds of billions of dollars.

Many other countries have Internet days of their own and most frequently their dates are indicative of some events linked to the introduction of the Internet in one or another country.

As for the international date, the title of the World Day of the Internet may by claimed by April 4.

On that day, the Roman Catholic Church venerates the St Isidore of Seville, a Spanish bishop who lived in the 6th and 7th centuries. This scientist of the early Christian era is believed to be the patron saint of the worldwide web.

Russian Parties To Mark Internet Day By Contacts With Bloggers

Practically all of Russias political parties are going to demonstrate their commitment to the worldwide web as Russia marks Internet Day on Wednesday.

Official websites that all the registered parties have long opened them for the purposes of mass communications report on a variety of actions devoted to this feast of technological sophistication.

The United Russia Party hopes to lay the foundation of a new tradition - the annual meeting of party leaders with bloggers of the partys own social network that was set up about a year ago in the framework of renovation of the partys Internet portal. The latter was officially presented at United Russias congress last fall.

The resource for debates has been named The Lair in line with the party symbolic that refers to bears.

In another festive action, the party will register its er.ru portal as a mass media.

Pressing issues in the development of blogs as a sector of activity in the Russian segment of the Internet will come into the focus of a conversation that Sergei Mironov, the leader of the Fair Russia party and also the speaker of the upper house of parliament, will have with bloggers.

Mironov has every right to discuss Runet in detail, as he himself is an active blogger. His diary in the Live Journal is popular not only among reporters covering the parliament.

An advocate of a law on the Internet, Mironov is also quite vehement as regards the denial of any censorship in the Internet. The law on the Internet should regulate the providers operations but it shouldnt restrict the rights of ordinary users to expressing their opinions, he says.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party /LDPR/ will most obviously appear at his blog on the mail.ru mailing portal. As for his partys official site, it has long turned into an extra rostrum for airing his very offbeat ideas and postulations.

The site also contains the contests of poems and toasts.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not plan any special actions on this improvised holiday, yet it is mastering the virtual spaces as courageously as other parties do.

A short while ago, the partys presidium issued an instruction to all of its regional branches to create their own websites and called on the rank-and-file party members to start embedding themselves actively in all the social networks.

Practically right on the eve of the new - and still informal - holiday Ivan Melnikov, the Communist Partys Vice Chairman said at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Internet offers much in terms of socialization but it will never replace the genuine /human/ socialization.

The Right Cause party and the Andrei Gogdanov Center that affiliated with it recently plan holding an action in Moscow in support of the electronic government. As if they were echoing President Dmitry Medvedev, members of these parties indicate that the electronic government will raise the quality of operations of state agencies and, above all, will become an efficient mechanism of fighting with bureaucracy, corruption and red-tape arbitrariness.

Internet Bill Another Step Towards Police State

A government-proposed bill obliging Internet providers to make user information available to investigative agencies is part of a vast campaign to curb democratic liberties in Russia, said leader of the movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomaryov.

"This is part of a big strategy, in my opinion," Ponomaryov told Interfax on Monday.

"The bill is reminiscent of the previous initiative to censor correspondence without a court order," he said.

"Human rights are under a steady attack. There is confidence that the amendments proposed will pass through the State Duma, although they are at variance with the spirit and essence of a democratic state and the Russian constitution, which says that private life is inviolable," Ponomaryov said.

The law enforcement agencies are lobbying for such amendments, because making things simpler for themselves is in their corporate interests," he said.

"We are advancing towards a police state," he added.

A bill obliging Internet providers to make user information available to investigative agencies has been submitted to the Justice Ministry, earlier reports said. The government-proposed bill was published on the ministry's official website. It proposes amendments to Federal Law No.149-FZ on information, information technologies and protection of information. If the Justice Ministry okays the bill it will be submitted to the State Duma.

Russian MP Refuses To Apologize To Estonia Over Cyber Attacks

Director of the Russian Institute for Political Studies and State Duma deputy Sergey Markov does not intend to apologize to Estonia and says that Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip should apologize himself for discrimination against Russian speaking citizens (in Estonia) and moving the Bronze Soldier monument.

"I will be ready to apologize when I am guilty of something. But when I say that I do not view Estonia as a democratic state, that is my opinion and my stance. If Mr Ansip can find logical reasons for me to apologize to the Estonian people, I would be very glad to do so, because I am interested in improving relations between Russia and Estonia. But in this case, I have nothing to apologize for," Markov told Interfax on Tuesday (29 September).

He added that it would be appropriate for Ansip to apologize himself. "I think that Ansip himself ought to apologize for conducting a discriminatory policy against Estonia's Russian-speaking citizens, which, without any exaggeration, is a policy of apartheid. He also ought to apologize for moving the Bronze Soldier monument from (Tallinn's) city center to a cemetery," Markov said.

Ansip said that he is ready to permit Markov and former Nashi (youth movement) leader, Vasiliy Yakemenko, to enter Estonia if they apologize. (Passage omitted)

Markov was put on Estonia's "black list" because he allegedly knew that his aide organized cyber attacks on Estonian websites during mass rallies of the Russian-speaking citizens in spring 2007, who protested against moving the Bronze Soldier monument. (Passage omitted)

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