In This Review

The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries
The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries
By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan
PublicAffairs, 2015, 384 pp

This could have been a narrowly told story of how the Internet came to Russia and now pervades the lives of most of its citizens. Instead, although the authors do trace the jury-rigged early Russian connections to the Web in the late 1980s, they tell a much broader tale. They delve into the Kremlin’s efforts to commandeer this new medium, the interplay between state-controlled media and the more freewheeling Internet, and the ingenuity of the young paladins who have kept information flowing over the Internet despite the best efforts of Russia’s security services. The authorities now eavesdrop on virtually every form of communication in the country, from e-mail to Skype. But the Kremlin has been unable to bring the Internet to heel and ensure that only the regime’s views proliferate. Soldatov and Borogan, two young journalists, dogged and nervy, are detectives, tracking down the players on all sides. They weave the results into something close to a high-tech adventure.