Although on paper Russia appears to be a functioning and democratic government, in reality it is an authoritarian state where any infrastructure put in place only advantages government officials. This also applies to internet usage in the former soviet union. N 2017 Freedom house rated Internet in Russia as not free and gave them a nice 36/40 for violation of rights and a 25/35 for violation of content.The Russian government maintains their tight control over the internet (and low Freedom House Scores) with the help of a centralized internet blacklist established in July of 2012. This blacklist is controlled by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media known in Russia as Roskomnadzor.
The purpose of this list is to censor individual URLs, domain names, and IP addresses. Its original intent was to block sites that contain materials advocating for drugs, drug abuse and drug production, as well as sites that show methods for committing suicide, and websites that contain child pornography. Although on paper this blacklist seems to have good intentions, it was amended by the Kremlin in 2013 so that content that calls for unauthorized meetings, or content that is deemed extremist, hateful, or in violation of the established order can be blocked without a court order by the Prosecutor General. Like most infrastructure put in place by the Kremlin the internet blacklist is frequently abused so that Putin’s political opponents are silenced and any mentions of protests or criticisms of the federal government are blocked as well. The trend of increased restrictions on Internet freedom in russia has only continued its downward spiral.
Over the past few years the government has demanded communication platforms, like social media sites, to store Russian users’ data on Russian territory. Consequently these demands led Roskomnadzor to block LinkedIn after it declined to comply with these demands. Whenever there are large scale protests in russia it is followed by the government tightening internet restrictrictions. They did this in 2012 and 2013 after protests over fraudulent elections and corruption, and in 2018 with another presidential election coming up kremlin bureaucrats will continue to curb talk of dissent online.