Oleg Kashin was brutally attacked near his home in Moscow on November 6, 2010. His both hands were crashed and his jaw was broken. The message was clear, don't write and don't talk. The government seams to cooperate on this case, but I think the reality is different. In the past, other journalists that have criticized the Kremlin have been beaten and even killed. This is part of a well known tactic based on fear to stifle descent. The video of this event, showing the pain Oleg Kashin went through, was allegedly leaked by the police. Or perhaps it was intentionally released to the public to send a wave of fear into the journalist community?!
These fear tactics have been successfully used in the past. The problem is that today they don't work anymore. This is another clear example of measures that are not in tune with the new reality, showing that those in power don't understand the new world. It's like the Obama's government reacting to the latest Wikileaks release, trying to control the spread of the leaked information threatening with a fossilized law, made before the Internet even existed... We should all pay attention to these knee-jerk reactions, these panic mode reactions, these clumsy actions of damage control, using inadequate tools to address a problem they don't fully understand.
Internet is global, anyone in the world can now criticize the Russian government, this is actually what I am doing right now, outside of their zone of influence, potentially reaching the entire Russian population. Information is not only produced and consumed locally, as it was before. Moreover, information is not produced within centralized institutions anymore. The production and the distribution of information is highly decentralized, democratic and deprofessionalized.
The fear tactic doesn't work on the diaspora, nor on people like me who are sympathetic to Russian freedom fighters. Even locally, its effects are diminished when it targets independent individuals who possess their own means of analysis and distribution of information, because their own decision to brave fear in the name of freedom cannot be hindered by other relations, as it normally happens within a centralized media organization. The actions of these independent Internet journalists only depend on their own decisions. These fear tactics can only backlash. Usually these stories get amplified outside of the country, gain momentum, and the whole phenomena they entail sustains the resilience of freedom fighters within the country.
When are these governments going to understand that hanging people in public doesn't work anymore?
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