Andrei Soldatov is an editor of Agentura.Ru, an information hub on intelligence agencies. He has worked for Versiya, Moscow News and Novaya Gazeta covering hostage takings, terrorist attacks and espionage scandals. He also covered the 2006 Lebanon War and tensions in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Andrei regularly comments on terrorism and intelligence issues for Vedomosti, Radio Free Europe and the BBC.
Irina Borogan is an investigative journalist and a deputy editor of Agentura.Ru. She began her journalistic career in 1996 as a reporter at Segodnya newspaper. In 1999 she covered the NATO bombings in Serbia. In November 2002, Irina was interrogated by FSB officers about her forthcoming article on the storming of the Nord-Ost theater. In 2002-2005 she reported on espionage charges levelled by the FSB, and she regularly chronicled the increasing influence of the special services on the Russian government. In 2009 she started a series of articles investigating the Kremlin's campaign to gain control of civil society and strengthen the government's police services under the pretext of combating extremism. Irina is a regular commentator on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC Russian service.
Andrei and Irina's book The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB was published in September 2010. It has now been translated into six languages, including Chinese, Estonian, French and Russian.
In order to lawfully conduct communications surveillance (“lawful interception”) in the U.S. and Western Europe, a law enforcement agency must seek authorisation from a court and produce an order to a network operator or internet service provider, which is then obliged to intercept and then to deliver the requested information. In contrast, Russian Federal Security Service operatives (FSB) can conduct surveillance directly by utilising lawful interception equipment called SORM.
On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court okayed the wiretapping of an opposition activist. The Court ruled that spying on Maxim Petlin, a regional opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was lawful, since he had taken part in rallies where calls against extending the powers of Russia’s security services were heard. The court decided that these were demands for “extremist actions” and approved surveillance carried out by the national interception system, known as SORM.
On the surface, it’s all about protecting Russian kids from internet pedophiles. In reality, the Kremlin’s new “Single Register” of banned websites, which goes into effect today, will wind up blocking all kinds of online political speech. And, thanks to the spread of new internet-monitoring technologies, the Register could well become a tool for spying on millions of Russians.
Privacy International, Agentura.Ru, the Russian secret services watchdog, and Citizen Lab have joined forces to launch a new project entitled 'Russia’s Surveillance State'. The aims of the project are to undertake research and investigation into surveillance practices in Russia, including the trade in and use of surveillance technologies, and to publicise research and investigative findings to improve national and international awareness of surveillance and secrecy practices in Russia.