Richard Wike
theguardian.com
March 21, 2014

Vladimir Putin has never been a fan of a free press or open public debates, but the Ukraine crisis has provided the Kremlin with a new favorite target for cracking down even more harshly on political expression: cyberspace. Last week, Galina Timchenko was ousted as editor of the Russian news site Lenta.ru, after publishing an interview with a right wing Ukrainian nationalist. She was replaced with an editor much more friendly toward Putin and his allies. The websites of opposition leaders Garry Kasparov and Alexei Navalny have also been targeted, along with other sites critical of the Russian president.

Tayyip Erdogan, the embattled Turkish prime minister, recently pushed new censorship legislation through parliament, making it easier for the government to block web content – and now Twitter is restricted across the country.

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro has blocked websites covering topics that might be a bit uncomfortable for his government, such as skyrocketing inflation and anti-government protests.

World leaders may be cracking down on dissenting voices online – if ever there were a global trend, it’s that the revolution will be tweeted, and then restricted – but research shows there are reasons to be very optimistic about the future of internet freedom.

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