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The Real Russia. Today. Russia blocks millions of IP addresses, major prison funding cuts, and rescuing students from ‘Russophobia’

Meduza
12:18, 17 april 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

  • Russia blocks millions of IP addresses, battling the proxy servers that flout the Telegram ban
  • A deputy prime minister admits that Russia plans to “borrow” a few ideas from SpaceX
  • A man cuts off two of his fingers to draw attention to his wife's claims that she was raped by the cops, and in the end she's convicted of filing a false police report
  • The Belarusian “sex gurus” who say they have dirt on RussiaGate face years in the Thai prison system
  • An activist in Kazan is asked to take a polygraph test to “verify” her claim that somebody vandalized her car
  • Good news for young men of draft age who'd prefer to study
  • Major cuts to planned developments of Russia's prison system
  • Moscow wants to rescue students abroad from “Russophobic” reeducation in Britain

Story of the day: Russia block whole chunks of the Internet in crackdown on Telegram 🌍

On the morning of April 16, Russia’s federal censor ordered Russian ISPs to start blocking access to the instant messenger Telegram. At first, Roskomnadzor ordered Internet providers to cut service only to Telegram’s own IP addresses. Soon, however, the government also banned hundreds of thousands of IP addresses belonging to Amazon’s cloud service, which Telegram was using to circumvent Russia’s block. Roskomnadzor later blocked more than a million IP addresses in Google’s cloud service, as well. Now there’s even a special website dedicated to tracking how many IP addresses Roskomnadzor blocks in its battle with proxy servers. (Note: at the time of this writing, the total number of blocked IP addresses was almost 16 million.)

So far, Telegram is still accessible to many users in Russia, though other websites have suffered outages, suffering collateral damage in Roskomnadzor’s hunting efforts. The radio station Govorit Moskva, for example, said its website was temporarily inaccessible because of traffic routing problems caused when ISPs started blocking one of the subnets it uses. The messenger Viber, the social network Odnoklassniki, and several ewallet services have also experienced technical difficulties.

On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor even launched a special “hotline,” which people can call to report the accidental blocking of “innocent online resources.” The agency also complained about “unverified reports” that its crackdown on millions of IP addresses has inadvertently cut off access to various websites and services unrelated to Telegram. (At the time of this writing, Roskomnadzor's hotline was inaccessible — possibly due to the reported DDoS attacks against the agency.)

Can people still download Telegram? Yes, but on April 17 Roskomnadzor formally ordered Apple and Google to remove Telegram from their app stores in Russia. At the time of this writing, neither company had complied.

Russia’s federal censor has reportedly started notifying the owners of various proxy servers that they will be blocked in Russia, if they refuse to cut access to the instant messenger Telegram, according to Pavel Chikov, a lawyer for the “Agora” human rights group, which has represented Telegram in Russian court.

Ashamed, but not too ashamed to admit it ☺️

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s space industry, announced in an interview with RBC on Tuesday that Russia plans to adopt some of SpaceX’s engineering solutions. Rogozin did not specify which of Elon Musk’s technologies or approaches the Russian space industry would be using. Rogozin described Musk as a talented engineer and a “brilliant PR man.”

“Police work” 👮‍♂️

Beaten, raped, and charged

A woman in Magnitogorsk says she was raped by the cops. Her husband cut off two fingers to draw attention to her case. Now she’s been convicted of filing a false police report.

Acquitted but not really

“Nastya Rybka” and “Alex Leslie,” the two self-styled “sex gurus” arrested in Thailand earlier this year along with six “students,” have been acquitted of operating without a work permit, but they now face the more serious charges of criminal association and soliciting prostitution. Both are still subject to being deported back to Belarus, but they could be hit with several years in a Thai prison before that ever happens. The whole group will be back in court on April 24 for an extension of their arrests.

Who are these people? Ah, how quickly we forget our Internet celebrities! Anastasia Vashukevich (Rybka) Alexander Kirillov (Leslie) made headlines earlier this year as the stars of Alexey Navalny’s investigative report into billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko. Navalny speculates that Vashukevich may have witnessed Deripaska and Prikhodko discussing Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She and Kirillov have been happy to fan those hopes, trying to win U.S. legal assistance. (Uncle Sam hasn’t come through for them, however.)

Tell it to the machine

Over the weekend, someone broke into the garage of a 62-year-old woman living outside Kazan and bashed in her car’s windows. The woman, Farida Gilmutdinova, attributes the attack to her participation in recent protests against the local construction of a new waste incineration plant. A court previously fined three locals for reposting information about the protests online. Police have invited Gilmutdinova to take a polygraph test to “verify” her report to the authorities about her car.

Good news, young men 🕺

There’s good news for Russian boys who started school a little earlier than their peers. On Tuesday, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that a draft deferment received to finish high school doesn’t count as a first deferment. Pavel Spiridonov took the government to court after obtaining deferments to finish high school and undergraduate school. When he applied for a third deferment to attend graduate school, lower courts said he had to report for conscription because he’d already obtained two deferments. According to the Constitutional Court’s new ruling, that first one shouldn’t count.

Warden threw a party in the county jail 💸

Russia’s state penitentiary system is going to have to do more with less. According to a revised federal action program, the government now intends to spend roughly half as much on upgrades to the country’s prison system over the next eight years: 55 billion rubles ($894.6 million) instead of 96.5 billion rubles ($1.6 billion). The new pretrial detention facilities built under this plan are supposed to accommodate 11,000 new inmates — a thousand more than when the funding was almost twice as high.

For the past few years, the budget allocated to feed Russian prisoners has also been falling. In 2015, the state spent 86 rubles ($1.40) a day feeding each inmate. By 2017, that figure had dropped to 72 rubles ($1.17) a day, and by 2019 a prisoner’s daily diet will consist of just 64 rubles ($1.04) in food.

What is the prison system supposed to do with half as much money? The eight-year plan calls for 11 new pretrial detention centers, 14 new secure facilities (and renovations to four existing such facilities), and the construction and reconstruction of 118 auxiliary facilities at pretrial detention centers.

Come home, noodleheads 🇬🇧🇷🇺

Rossotrudnichestvo (the agency with maybe the longest name in the Russian state: “for CIS affairs, compatriots living abroad, and international humanitarian cooperation”) wants to do its part to reduce the Western world’s “Russophobic” influence on Russia’s best and brightest, and so it’s launching a project as awkwardly named as itself: “Highly Likely Welcome Back or It’s Time to Come Home!”

According to the newspaper Kommersant, the program targets Russians studying abroad (but mainly in the UK) with invitations to return home and enroll at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Students who are already wrapping up their education abroad would apparently get fixed up with jobs, for example, in Russia’s scenic Far East. In 2017, roughly 60,000 Russians attended institutions of higher education abroad.

Yours, Meduza