Just Foolish

There are a lot of bad things about the Georgia-Russia conflict, but this is just foolish: Nearly all Russia-based web sites seem to be blocked from Georgia, and by the Georgian side. Trying to surf to the Moscow Times gets me a domain-parking site, while Izvestiya.ru, just for example, yields a four-line message in Georgian. (Whatever Great Firewall of the Caucasus technology they’re using spills over in weird ways. Yesterday there were periods where I couldn’t get facebook (my productivity soared!) and couldn’t get Google.com but could get Google.de.)

C’mon guys, you’re the underdogs here. The free flow of information is your friend. Cut it out already.

This entry was posted in Political issues, Transition and accession, Websites by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

19 thoughts on “Just Foolish

  1. Well, even MiloÅ¡ević government didn’t block access to Western web sites during NATO bombing…

    We were free to read whatever web site we wanted. I was in military at the time and nobody was preventing me from connecting to Internet (from physically separated computer, off course) and reading news on any web site I wanted to see.

  2. Ditto.

    One way this is counterproductive is that the Georgians who would read websites in the “runet” are now prevented by their own government from presenting a view that the same government would probably otherwise support.

  3. Saakashvili is looking more and more like a real EU and NATO-type of democrat. Now I see why they support him unconditionally. Control the information; if possible, hide it, spin it, block it, or bomb the television studio

  4. You are kidding me, right? The “great democrat,” the “reformer” and God’s gift to Georgian people is somehow preventing the free flow of information. Ahhh, I remember his propaganda on CNN, where he talked about how he loved the Founding Fathers and read the “Federalist Papers.” LOL. What a joke he is.

    He should be impeached for taking his country to a ruin (military, economic, geopolitical). But that would be too much to ask from Georgians.

    The more I read about him and his conduct, the more I realize that he is not only reckless and incompetent, but also a lunatic with mental disorder. Look at his photographs. My goodness, he guy lost his marbles.

  5. Before you all jump to conclusions, it might be that these sites are blocked in an attempt to prevent denial of service attacks on Georgian internet servers-see slashdot-but maybe I’m being naive.

  6. Thanks Mattijs. It is true that a more reasonable explanation exists.

    In fact, the fact that they’ve done that could indicate that it is time for Doug to leave Tiblisi again. Who knows what Georgia or the U.S. will do next. Their policy has been very wreckless and, predictibly, a wreck.

  7. It isn’t might be at all. Russia started a cyberwar operation against Georgia’s Internet on July 20th with an early probing attack to test some of the government servers in Georgia, in perparation for their planned invasion of Georgia. On Wednesday-Thursday, August 6th-7th, Russia began ramping up a massive cyberwar assault against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure with DDOS and other attacks using the RBN from Russia. In other words, the entirely one-sided Russian cyberwar began more than a full day before Georgia deemed it necessary to counterattack the Russian invasion column which crossed into Georgia’s South Ossetia from Russia on the night of August 7th-8th.

    Gergia’s Internet backbone was sourced through Moscow, so Georgian resistance to the Russian cyber attacks has necessarily been focused on the Moscow based networks and a server in the United States being used by Russia’s RBN hackers.

    Estonia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine have been previous victims of these same Russian RBN attackers based upon the tracing of those attacks.

  8. There are such threatening voices from the west to never recognize Akbkhazia or Ossetia, but realistically, Russia probably HOPES the self-righteous West never recognizes either state.

    The Ossetia situation will remain static, but Abkhazia is a verdant beach paradise, with more than enough potential for development. Since the West won’t recognize it, Abkhazia will become a financial/regulatory semi blind-spot on the world map, where money can enter and exit with little scrutiny. The Abkhazian coast will fill with Russian oligarch mansions where they can ‘be alone’ with just themselves. (That’s right, they wont be going to the Turkish coast anymore for vacations either.) What is more, the west will invest in Abkhazia whether they mean to or not, since the Abkhaz people hold Russian passports and can participate in Russian corporations. Russia has won, and Bush keeps looking like an idiot. Every time Condi gets in front of a camera and says “we will never recognize Abkhazia” and says “As a UN security council member, we can tell you that recognition will be dead-on-arrival at the UN” – that’s when if you listen hard enough, you can hear champagne popping open in Moscow.

  9. Lol, its really quite the brilliant scheme. You have to give Putin some credit – not just a karate jock, but a mastermind!

  10. DWP, do you write anything other than fiction?

    Matthijs — since you seem to be reading Slashdot, then perhaps the term “FUD” will also ring a bell. First, how exactly would a DDOS attack from Russia be stopped by not allowing Georgians to access Russian websites? You’d have no problems accessing Georgian sites from Russia, which is all that’s needed for DDOS anyway (not to mention the availability of proxies and zombie networks abroad). Second, Russian internet isn’t blocked in its entirety, as far as I know — only particular (news)websites. Douglas should be able to confirm or deny.

    No, the reason for this is simple — information control. Read, for example http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSLJ36223120080819 — two reasons are listed: threats from viruses (which is ridiculous), and “disinformation” (which is damning).

  11. It was proven to not be fiction when I predicted the previous day that the Russian Army would enter Georgia to capture Zugdida, despite a Russian general’s public promises Russia would not do so. It was also proven to not be fiction when I predicted the Russian Army would either resume the offensive to capture the remainder of Georgia within 72 hours, or else would cancel the offensive and not honor the ceasefire agreement to withdraw from Georgia without prolonged stalling.

    Now here is one of many credible sources with evidence of the Russian cyber attacks prior to any Georgian responses.

    The individuals with direct responsibility for carrying out the cyber “first strike” on Georgia is a RBN (Russian Business Network) operative named Alexandr A. Boykov of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Also involved in the attack was a programmer and spammer from Saint Petersburg named Andrew Smirnov. These men are leaders of RBN sections and are not “script-kiddies” or “hacktivists” (as some have maintained of the cyber attacks on Georgia).
    Further investigation of Mr. Boykov and Mr. Smirnov are likely to implicate the Russian authorities in the cyber first strike.


  12. Fact, not fiction. See the tracemap of the cyberattack coming from Russia at rbnexploit

  13. Ah yes, rbnexploit; an anonymous blog prophesying that RBN will turn into Skynet any day now (honest), and which has been nothing if not a mouthpiece of the Georgian government throughout this little tussle. An interesting read; sadly, it has a tiny flaw in that it is fictitious.

    “During the hostilities, we’ve seen no significant changes in routing. In particular, we saw no apparent attempts to limit traffic via Russia”

    I will remind you also that despite widespread bleating to the contrary in the blogosphere, there is still no credible evidence (or any evidence at all for that matter) that Russian leadership had anything to do with the attacks on Estonia, and seeing how most of this conjecture relies on (at the very least) precedent, it is again entirely unfounded.

    But let us forget for a minute this so-called “Cyberwar” (DDoSing the website of an odious little man like Saakashvili, after all, seems its own reward) — I am far more intrigued about this “Russian invasion column” that Georgia deemed worthy of attack, especially since it appears to have been so sneaky that even the Georgian government and press hadn’t (and still haven’t) noticed it. Russkies may be evil, but they’re certainly not invisible.

    I’ll be honest here, your stuff reads like your run-of-the-mill “Bush did 9/11” silliness that is oh-so widespread on these here internets.

    P.S. I read this article today, which really shows in no uncertain terms the seed of today’s conflict. Georgia for Georgians, indeed.

    P.P.S. I really hope that HTML tags work — if not, my post will look extremely silly.

  14. So, you want the readers to believe that no one is credible but you and Russia. Not rbnexploit, not Spamhaus, not VeriSign, not the U.S. Air Force, not the FBI, not Georgia, not France, not Estonia, not Lithuania, not Turkey, not Great Britain, not Germany, not Ukraine….

    “He said that information came in late on August 7 that Russian military hardware was rolling through Roki Tunnel into South Ossetia(Saakashvili’s Account of Events).”

  15. Let’s see.

    You aren’t credible because you haven’t been able to back up a single thing you said with anything resembling fact or by submitting information from credible sources.

    Case in point: rbnexploit’s blog posts are in direct contradiction with statements issued by the internet traffic monitoring firm Renesys. I have linked to the relevant article in my previous comment. You may now explain why you believe rbnexploit, an anonymous blog, is more credible than Renesys.

    Case in point: Saakashvili is not credible because reality seems to have a very anti-Saakashvili leaning bias. Saakashvili’s quotation which you have so graciously provided directly contradicts the official Georgian timeline, which has this to say:

    5:30: First Russian troops enter through Roki tunnel South Ossetia, passed Java, crossed Gufta bridge and moved by Dzara road towards Tskhinvali.

    5:30 AM; long after the shelling of Tskhinvali had commenced. Over six hours after Saakashvili’s timeline:

    At 11 p.m., Saakashvili said, he received the first reports that Russian units were passing through the tunnel.

    But hey, don’t let mere facts get in the way.

  16. Don’t misrepresent the facts. The reports you quoted are not inconsistent at all. 5:30AM is not when the first Russian troop column entered the Roki/Roksky Tunnel. They obviously said it is the time when the Russian troops were passing farther down the Dzara road after having already passed through the tunnel into South Ossetia, passed by Java, and crossed the Gufta bridge and beyond earlier in the night.

    Even the South Ossetian officials and the Moscow news media acknowledged the Russian military convoy was already enroute to and through the 3.66 km Roki/Roksky Tunnel when the article published on the day of August 7th.

    Russian military vehicles start moving towards South Ossetia via Roki Tunnel

    According to official sources in South Ossetia, the Russian military started moving towards South Ossetia via the Roki Tunnel. “Military convoys and armored carriers with troops are moving by the Transkam Road from Alagir towards the Lower Zaramag border check-point,” the sources say…(Regnum, Moscow, 7 August 2008).

    The only way it is physically possible for the Russian armored and tracked vehicles to march in convoy the required distance down the mountainous Transkam highway to the Kurta bridge by early morning is by crossing the Lower Zaramag border check-point BEFORE 0000 Hours 8 August 2008.

  17. “Futility Says:
    August 28th, 2008 at 1:56 am Let’s see.

    You aren’t credible because you haven’t been able to back up a single thing you said with anything resembling fact or by submitting information from credible sources.”

    I predicted the Russian general was a liar when he said Russian forces were not going to invade the remainder of Georgia from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. My prediction proved to be true when Russian forces subsequently invaded and occupied Georgia’s Zugdidi and Senaki.

    Likewise, your claim that rbnexploit and other sources are not credible when they report Russia’s counterintelligence service, FSB, is not responsible for the cyberwar attacks against Georgia, Estonia, Radio Ffree Europe, and other Western targets is itself a baldfaced lie and Russian disinformation. Readers can see for themselves with searches of the Internet for the articles and technical information about the former RBN and how Russia’s FSB uses RBN’s former assets as proxies for plausible deniability to conduct a wide range of cyber crime and cyber warfare up to an including botnets, computer hijacking, massive phishing attacks, identity theft, and blackmail with child pornography. The readers can discover who is and is not credible.

  18. Leave Russia alone…US invaded a country so therefore Russia can invade a country (as the current justification goes..). And Chechnya is different! So there you go!

  19. It is Russia which needs to leave its neighbors alone by retracting its blatantly illegal threats and acts of military aggression it is making against its neighbors and members of NATO. No, Russia cannot lawfully invade its neighbors. No, the United States and NATO have acted in accordance with internaiotnal law and the United Nations resolutions as peacemakers and peacekeepers. Russia’s claims of doing likewise are false propaganda and just as illegal as its previous illegal invasions and occupations of Poland, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, and so many other states. Your neighbors and trading partners will no longer submit to Russia’s abuses of their right to life and liberty. Neither should you tolerate your leadership when they threaten the life and liberty of your neigbors or yourselves. Do Russians have the will and the courage to liberate themselves and defend those liberties?

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