Russian Opposition Sites Hit with Attacks

Websites critical of Russia’s government appear to have been silenced in DDoS attacks

Russian websites attempting to expose election fraud have been attacked, it has been revealed.

The websites for the Moscow Echo, a Russian radio station popular among the liberal opposition, the election monitoring group Golos, as well as various other websites critical of the current government have been the victims of  distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, designed to bring these sites to their knees, in the wake of the Russian election.

Silencing the opposition

Owned by state gas giant, Gazprom, the Moscow Echo has been working to reveal violations in Russia’s legislative polls, and according to tweets by editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov “The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations.” He added that he has filed a complaint directly with the spokespeople of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian government has in the past shown itself to be heavy-handed in Internet matters, attempting to close down Skype, Gmail and Hotmail on national security grounds.

The station has also demanded that the Central Election Committee investigate the attacks as a criminal matter,  with Nikolai Senkevich,chairman of the stations board of directors stating that “Any hacker attack on any resource leads to financial losses, which is essentially the same as stealing.”

Once Sundays’ polls were closed, the Moscow Echo website was up gain but the Golos website remained inaccessible.

Also using Twitter, Golos said that its main website as well as the “Map of Violations” site, where people could report evidence of election violations or fraud across Russia were under “massive DDoS attacks”, according to an AFP report.

Golos head Liliya Shibanova claimed that this was no small-time hack, and with 50,000 hits per second by computers attempting to access the Golos website, she believes that “A big organisation with plenty of means that must have done it.”

Shibanova was held for nearly 12 hours Saturday by customs officials who also confiscated her computer, according to the AFP report.

Opposition news sites were also victims of attacks, it has been reported.  Opposition weekly, New Times was down for several hours on Sunday, while business daily, Kommersant, has been down for four days, after hackers switched its IP address on Thursday.

Locked out

Even the general public has not been spared according to reports which claim that, a popular blogging platform, has been the victim of repeated DDoS attacks throughout the week, with bloggers not being able to access accounts. .

Anton Nossik, media director of Livejournal owner, SUP,did manage to access his blog, however, and claimed that those responsible for that attacks were a group of criminals, “fattened by the federal budget.”

Pro-Kremlin youth activists, whose website chronicled violations by the opposition parties, also complained on Twitter of hacking orchestrated by the opposition, but many have dismissed this since the website has been was fully accessible.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has denounced non-governmental organisations like Golos, comparing them to the disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus, according to AFP.