As the reality of the Vladimir Putin’s Crimean land grab sinks in, the most alarming aspect of it all is not the ease with which Russian troops seized the peninsula, but the way the Kremlin mobilized Russian public opinion behind its agenda.
Cyberspace is becoming a key battleground in a political struggle in Turkey connected to allegations of high-level government corruption. The latest casualty is the popular US-based audio-sharing website SoundCloud.
For months state-run media propaganda in Uzbekistan has warned about the supposedly detrimental effects of foreign media and culture on young people. Now President Islam Karimov’s administration seems intent on trying to legislate morality.
Civil society activists in Azerbaijan are trying to push back against government efforts to restrict space for public debate. And they’re hoping a recent global Internet forum in Baku will expand international support for their cause.
Court proceedings are dragging on in Turkey for 44 Kurdish media workers accused of supporting terrorism. While human rights groups say the trial, which opened in September, is an attempt to clamp down on free speech, the Turkish government maintains that some of the defendants are not actually journalists, but propagandists.
It’s clear that Russia and other authoritarian-minded, formerly Soviet states would like to turn out the lights on the Internet. Given their mood, an annual UN gathering, scheduled to be hosted by Azerbaijan in November, could emerge as a pivotal moment for web's future in Eurasia.
Social media has been a boon for democratization forces around the world, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa. But a recent tragedy in Turkey helps highlights the fact that social media also has a potentially dark side for democratization efforts.