Yesterday was election day in Russia, and the occasion brought with it a coordinated campaign reportedly designed to silence some specific groups. A report from GlobalVoices.org details a massive wave of DDoS attacks against blogging platforms, election watchdog Websites, and various independent sources of media and content aggregation in the days leading up to the elections. In harmony with these relatively new methods of silencing dissent, a number of opposition voices were arrested in classic fashion as well.
The DDoS campaign, primarily targeting a crowd-sourced election violation map and sites associated with it, began a number of days before the election. Among the targets were LiveJournal (a popular blogging platform in Russia), Golos.org (an election monitoring association), KartaNarusheniy.ru (the crowd-sourced election map itself), and many more, according to GlobalVoices.
In addition to the DDoS campaign, reports indicate a separate but related campaign of misinformation involving at least one fake Twitter account created to confuse readers of Golos.org.
The websites in question remained functional until election day when they went offline completely. GlobalVoices claims that attacks in the days leading into the election were merely preparations for a massive and coordinated attack against outlets that provide independent election coverage set to occur on the actual day voting would take place. The wave of attacks reportedly ended just minutes before voting closed in central Russia, where most voters live.
The attacks were reportedly carried out by a botnet with computers located around the world.
All of those arrested were accused of “Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity.” Among them was Alexey Sochnev, an editor of a popular news and blog aggregation site, besttoday.ru. In addition, the head of Golos, Lilia Shibanova, was detained for some 12 hours at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport until she allowed border security confiscate her laptop, which they claim contained “a dangerous piece of software.”
The attacks, however, went both ways. GlobalVoices reports that Sergey Minaev’s pro-Kremlin site was hacked and had its content deleted. The popular daily newspaper, Kommersant.ru was defaced as well.
You can read the entire GlobalVoices report here, including a full list of websites attacked and individuals arrested.