When Pen­sion­ers Learn the In­ter­net

The Moscow Times - - LIVING HERE -

An­other week, an­other op­po­si­tion tus­sle in Moscow. This time, riot po­lice de­tained around a thou­sand anti-cor­rup­tion pro­test­ers and beat up many more with trun­cheons—right af­ter Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin told NBC that Rus­sian po­lice don’t beat peo­ple with trun­cheons.

But don’t be too hard on the poor guys (I mean the po­lice.) They were prob­a­bly just trau­ma­tized by their pre­vi­ous fi­asco. I’m re­fer­ring, of course, to the June 11 shootout in a Moscow re­gion vil­lage, where a killer of four re­port­edly armed with WWII-era guns fought off the cops for hours and then es­caped. That must have hurt their ego.

At least pro­test­ers — many of them teenagers — don’t put up so much re­sis­tance.

But let’s talk about the in­ter­net. I mean bill 195446-7, of course. The one propos­ing to fi­nally bring the Rus­sian in­ter­net up to the lofty stan­dards of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity of China (ϦӼ೽) — i.e. to ban TOR, Vir­tual Pri­vate Net­works and other tools for cir­cum­vent­ing on­line cen­sor­ship.

Rus­sia cur­rently blocks 6.3 mil­lion web­sites, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­net free­dom watch­dog Rublack­list.net. But be­sides a hand­ful of porn sites, the tor­rent tracker Ru­tracker.org and that ter­ri­ble men­ace to Rus­sian law and or­der, LinkedIn, no one re­ally knows most of these ob­scure sites.

Mean­while, the web­sites, blogs and YouTube chan­nels of protest leader Alexei Navalny are still go­ing strong. So are a gazil­lion other sites that say not-so-nice things about the gov­ern­ment. As the Chi­nese Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity demon­strates, it is en­tirely pos­si­ble to block them all. So far, the Krem­lin doesn’t ap­pear to have the guts to do that. But who knows what the fu­ture holds?

The rea­son is sim­ple: techno­pho­bic “sex­a­ge­nar­i­ans.” Or, more pre­cisely, the over-sixty folks who run this lovely lit­tle coun­try from the ac­tive re­tire­ment home we call the Krem­lin. Mr. Putin turns 65 on Oc­to­ber 7 (don’t for­get to send a birth­day card). His Polit­buro is roughly of the same age, and so are most policy mak­ers who mat­ter. The few spring chick­ens in their midst—ahem, Dmitry “I was Pres­i­dent” Medvedev, aged 51 — meekly con­form.

In other words, Rus­sia is be­ing run by the last Soviet gen­er­a­tion. The col­lapse of the USSR brought them many new, con­fus­ing things: the in­ter­net, grass­roots ac­tivism, civic so­ci­ety and the novel idea that an econ­omy should be about more than tanks and mis­siles. Even “he who shall not be named by Putin” — op­po­si­tion leader N*****y— is 41.

But the Rus­sian lead­ers still live in 1978. To them, cy­ber­net­ics is a cap­i­tal­ist fake sci­ence, the in­ter­net re­mains a CIA ploy and any grass­roots ac­tivism is no less than en­emy in­sti­ga­tion. So the lead­ers do the only sen­si­ble thing (to them): They fight to bring 1978 back again.

If that means ban­ning the in­ter­net or beat­ing up women and teens with trun­cheons (oh, to beat up the in­ter­net!), the worse for the in­ter­net, women and teens.

Still, there is some rea­son for op­ti­mism: The next gen­er­a­tion, what­ever its flaws, is much more com­fort­able with the 21st cen­tury. Even Medvedev has a beloved iPad. But the $64,000 ques­tion re­mains: How much will the legacy of the Soviet pen­sion­ers shape Rus­sia be­fore the new gen­er­a­tion comes to power? Will a fear of moder­nity be en­shrined as tradition?

One day in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture, when we all up­load our minds to the Global In­ter­net, Rus­sia may still be barred from LinkedIn.

Un­fair Ob­server is a secret Rus­sian jour­nal­ist of­fer­ing a satir­i­cal take on the worst and most ab­surd de­vel­op­ments hap­pen­ing in Rus­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Russia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.