Speaking last week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, at an interregional anti-terrorist panel of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the FSB’s deputy director, General Sergey Smirnov, spoke of a need for “adequate measures” to deal with the “cyber-pressure” that the Russian security watchdog feels from foreign intelligence “seeking to inflict losses on us.”
General Smirnov told the SCO – an intergovernmental body that manages relations among Russia, four CIS countries in Central Asia and China – that his organization was aware of Western agents using new technology to infiltrate the blogosphere in order to kindle and stoke societal tensions and fuel political dissent in some SCO member states. Their ultimate goal is to lay the groundwork for “overthrowing the established political regimes in those countries,” Smirnov alleged, adding that in his opinion, the ‘Arab Spring’ of late 2010 as well as other upheavals across North Africa and the Middle East had stemmed from encouragement for rebellion by Western secret services on all fronts, including the blogosphere.
“…Our pre-election situation… showed the broad opportunities that are opening up for blogosphere-driven subversion,” the FSB general said, referring to political turbulence before Russia’s recent parliamentary and presidential elections. Smirnov urged his colleagues in the SCO countries to work out “counter-measures” to offset what he described as “foul techniques.”
In spite of Smirnov’s assurances that the prospective measures “will not compromise democratic norms,” the deputy director’s contentious rhetoric appears to run counter to Russia’s pledge to abstain from any censorship of the Internet, a position voiced last November in London by Russian Minister of Communications Igor Shchegolev – and in line with President Medvedev’s views on the subject.