i3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217)

Institut Interdisciplinaire de l'Innovation

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Genesis of digital authoritarianism: Internet repression and resistance in Russia, 2012-2022
Posted on 30 June 2023

In the wake of the end of the USSR, the Russian Internet initially developed freely, leaving the initiative to numerous players inventing digital tools tailored to their uses. However, since the early 2010s, the authoritarian turn at the top of the Russian state has led to the deployment of a network of restrictions and constraints that have tightened on both players and the country's digital infrastructures. While the Russian network has long carried the hopes of democratization in the Russian public sphere, its framework has been built up over time, through controversy and trials. Despite criticism and militant and citizen circumvention, digital oppression has played a part in political sovereignization and the warmongering dynamic that culminated in the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This book, based on fieldwork carried out as part of the ANR ResisTIC project, provides a panorama of coercive governance and emancipatory digital uses in Russia, from peace to war. It highlights the multiple actors and digital objects at the heart of political controversies and usage tensions in the Russian digital space in the 2010s. It shows the processes by which digital oppression is constructed, through criticism, conflict and circumvention, pitting both public and private actors against each other, supporters of the net order and defenders of its freedoms. Through the prism of the Russian case, this book examines contemporary digital reconfigurations, from surveillance to sovereignty.