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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2071

Moscow seeks a stake in internet governance;
New penalties for insulting the national anthem

Edited by Ilan Berman and Daniel Jimenez
June 14, 2016


May 23: 

The Kremlin is seeking a larger role in global Internet governance. 
According to Itar-TASS, Russia's Foreign Ministry is now pushing to eliminate America's perceived monopoly on the governance of the Internet, and to itself assume a larger role in "international information security." "At the United Nations and other sites concerned various options are being discussed of internationalizing and reforming the existing model of running the worldwide web," Ilya Rogachyov, the head of the Ministry's Department of New Challenges and Threats, has told reporters in Moscow. 

"In this context Russia in cooperation with the BRICS partners systematically seeks creation of a transparent international mechanism that would ensure all countries' equitable participation in that process," Rogachyov has made clear. This mechanism would feature a prominent role for "Russia and its SCO and BRICS partners," which would help shape new rules of the road in the use of the World-Wide Web. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is under growing pressure to institute structural economic reforms to dampen deteriorating conditions within the country. 
The Moscow Times reports that coming days will see the first meeting of the president's economic council to take place in years in what amounts to a sign of growing official concern over the fiscal direction of the Russian Federation. Russian news sources report that the council will consider a package of new reforms, including measures "to cut state spending and raise the retirement age," as a means to shore up the national economy. 

May 24:

The Kremlin is increasingly moving Russia onto a "war footing" in anticipation of future conflict with the West, a new analysis by a leading British think tank has warned. "The term mobilizatsiya - 'mobilization' - features increasingly prominently in the Russian policy discussion," 
writes Andrew Monaghan of London's Chatham House. The mobilization measures that have been enacted by Vladimir Putin's government in recent months "include substantial investments in arms procurement, in improved conditions of service in the armed forces and defence industry, and in command-and-control systems and enhanced coordination between ministries. They also entail an intense programme of exercises involving the domestic security services and the armed forces." 

This trend presents a challenge for the United States and its allies, Monaghan notes. "The West can do little to prevent Russian mobilization per se, but a more sophisticated assessment of the process and its implications would aid the development of more effective policies of deterrence and dialogue. Understanding the nature of this mobilization should help to inform planning at NATO's Warsaw summit in July 2016, an event that will play a key role in shaping the Alliance's ongoing strategy for dealing with a more muscular Russia." 

A new draft law just approved by Russia's Supreme Court has significantly expanded penalties for those Russians who insult the country's national anthem, 
Radio Svoboda reports. The bill identifies as "desecration" any "deliberate distortion or musical version of the text of the national anthem in its public performance" or "publication in the media, including the internet," the news agency notes. Violators will face a range of potential penalties, including "restriction of freedom for up to one year, or community service for the same term, or imprisonment for a term of three to six months, or imprisonment for up to one year."


Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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