Media websites 'attacked' during Russia polls
Russian websites which exposed violations in parliamentary elections were inaccessible Sunday in a hacking attack they said was aimed at preventing them revealing the extent of election day fraud.
Popular Russian radio station Moscow Echo and election monitoring group Golos said their websites were the victims of an election day hacking attack Sunday, while several opposition news sites were inaccessible.
"The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations," Moscow Echo editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov wrote on Twitter.
Golos said it was the victim of a similar attack while several other opposition news sites were down. The Moscow Echo is popular among the liberal opposition although it is owned by state gas giant Gazprom.
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose United Russia party is expected to win the polls but with a reduced majority, last weekend denounced non-governmental organisations like Golos who he compared to the disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus.
Golos said on Twitter that its main website as well as the website 'Map of Violations' were under "massive DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks".
Golos head Liliya Shibanova said Saturday that the authorities seemed especially angry at their Map of Violations project, where people could upload any information or evidence of election fraud from across Russia.
Its entire operation appeared to be under siege Sunday, with spokeswoman Olga Novosad telling AFP: "Our email is not working, and we only have Skype to communicate with our regional network."
Faced with such odds, Golos is relying on blogs and Twitter to record violations in Sunday elections, she said.
Moscow Echo has also decentralised its website and broadcast streaming to other Internet sources.
"Everyone knew that the monsters would do anything to rig (elections)," wrote Moscow Echo presenter Matvey Ganapolsky on Twitter. "That's okay, we're patient." He vowed to publish all the incoming news on his blog.
The website of oppositional weekly New Times, known to publish investigative reports about government officials and feature columns by jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was also down, along with news website slon.ru.
Both have extensively covered the elections campaign and published opinion pieces on voting tactics in what opposition commentators have called a sham election with pre-determined results.
Popular business daily Kommersant was not working for the fourth consecutive day after it was hacked on Thursday. Hackers switched its IP address.
Russian bloggers also complained of their inability to access their accounts on popular blogging platform Livejournal.com. The website has been a victim of repeated DDoS attacks throughout the week and worked intermittently.
"Yes, they are still attacking. They must have a mountain of money," head of Live Journal Ilya Dronov wrote on his Twitter blog Saturday.
Editor of the online newspaper Gazeta.Ru Mikhail Kotov said Saturday he has been summoned to the federal mass media watchdog Roskomnadzor regarding an administrative "violations in publications about the Duma elections," the Interfax news agency reported.
Kotov said he suspected the summons was connected to Gazeta.Ru putting links on its website pointing readers to the Golos Map of Violations project.
© 2011 AFP