‘Point of No Return’: Russia’s Libertarians Lead Protest Against ‘Sovereign Internet’

According to White Counter, an NGO that tallies up participants at rallies using metal detector frames, 15,300 people on Sunday came out to the rally.
‘Point of No Return’: Russia’s Libertarians Lead Protest Against ‘Sovereign Internet’
11 March 09:39 2019 Print This Article

A draft law aimed at creating an internet that can be cut off from the rest of the world’s has raised fears that Russia could turn into the next North Korea. Alexei Navalny on Saturday afternoon tweeted that he couldn’t attend Sunday’s protest — which was co-organized by Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff for his 2013 Moscow mayoral campaign and his 2018 presidential campaign attempt — he “urgently” called for the public to attend.

According to White Counter, an NGO that tallies up participants at rallies using metal detector frames, 15,300 people on Sunday came out to the Sunday’s protest. Interior Ministry estimates cited by Interfax put the number of participants at 6,500.

Last May, when communications watchdog Roskomnadzor moved to block the popular messaging app Telegram, some 12,000 Russians turned out to a protest Svetov organized which  was last year’s largest street demonstration.

Last month, a draft bill passed the first of three readings in the State Duma that would require Russian internet traffic to go mostly through domestic routers and exchanges. Critics like Svetov say the bill could give the government the sweeping ability to censor online content and, going forward, actually be able to block apps like Telegram.

YouTube has become an increasingly popular tool among opposition activists seeking out audiences. The platform is now viewed by 82 percent of the Russian population aged 18-44.In spring 2017, opposition leader Alexei Navalny took authorities by surprise by using his YouTube channel to inspire thousands into the streets for the first mass protests against the Kremlin since 2012.

Navalny on Saturday afternoon tweeted that he couldn’t attend Sunday’s protest — which was co-organized by Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff for his 2013 Moscow mayoral campaign and his 2018 presidential campaign attempt — he “urgently” called for the public to attend.

According to White Counter, an NGO that tallies up participants at rallies using metal detector frames, 15,300 people on Sunday came out to the rally. Interior Ministry estimates cited by Interfax put the number of participants at 6,500.

On social media, photos circulated of people still waiting to get in as the meeting was coming to an end.

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