Home > NewsRelease > Russian Citizenry Wrestles the Kremlin’s Cyber-Bear
Russian Citizenry Wrestles the Kremlin’s Cyber-Bear
Albert Goldson Albert Goldson
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Thursday, April 21, 2022



The Information Ghost Guns

The public/private partnership’s 21st century communicationefforts to win the heart & minds of the citizenry, domestically andinternationally, has taken a quantum leap in sophistication from the days whenradio, television, print media dominated the information highway.

The internet has provided an unprecedented global immediacy of truth& lies to anyone and everyone who owns a mobile device. Today’s agendas arefar removed from the simplistic perspectives of the government and the people,rather from every political shade through every sliver of their respective sub-groups.

Utilizing cutting-edge communication witchcraft through AI-generateddeep fake language and imagery, like a funhouse mirror, any entity or savvy individual,often under the cloak of anonymity, can now contort the so-called truth totheir truth as the only truth.

Furthermore, the gatekeepers of information flow which includedemocratic governments and tech & social media giants, can shutdown variousroutes of the information highway and redefine free speech.

Context is the skeletal infrastructure that supports the truth. Nowadaysthe context of an event or issue has been melted down leaving a glob of factsto be reconfigured and then poured into the mold of one’s customized creation. Thisnewly formed and disseminated abomination represents the information “ghost gun” of 21stcentury with immediate global impacts.

To be fair, pre-pandemic, democratic and autocratic governmentcommunication practices obfuscated the truth to maintain public order otherwiselives would have been unnecessarily jeopardized during an emergency. Nowadays, whetherby design or default, government and corporate credibility has sufferedgreatly.

Suppression vs. Expression

The Russo-Ukraine conflict is the first large-scale war between twosovereign countries in the 21st century in which the world relies on the internetfor information.

Its predecessor was the Hong Kong protests, a non-lethal de factocivil war in which savvy, technical tactics were utilized by protestors toelude government censors and law enforcement in organizing protests.

The new technology forcibly places private industry and tech companiesin the uncomfortable middle gray zone between the government’s need forunquestioned compliance, pandemic related or not, and the citizenry’s right to openlyquestion and debate these mandates.

Finally, there’s a considerably difference with respect to personalrisks in aggressively seeking the truth, or at least compelling counterpointnon-official perspectives, in a democracy vs an autocracy.

Disinformation, Misinformation and Damned Statistics

Since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war many Russian citizens haveactively sought alternative news information besides the Kremlin’s limited menuof news. Of course this doesn’t mean that the western media projects, sometimesunabashedly aggressive, its own biases and political agenda, rather there aremore diverse and independent news sources from which western citizens can legallyaccess.

To achieve diverse perspectives many Russians have had to circumvent theKremlin’s cyber-barricades especially those who, for various reasons, prefer toremain in Russia. For this reason this struggle has turned into a 21stcentury cat & mouse game in a world of AI and electronic surveillance thathas forever replaced the vintage hidden mini-printing press and mimeographmachines.

The Russo Cyber-Landscape

The following series of charts provide a sequential overview of measures& counter-measures as the Russian public attempts to access alternative,non-government information while the Kremlin attempts to block such access andprovide their official version of the news. 

The Russian pre-war, social media scene in 2021 is indicated on thefollowing chart entitled Russia’sMost Popular Social Media Networks provided by Statista GlobalConsumer Survey.


The following chart entitled GrowingDemand for Messaging Security in Ukraine and Russia providedby Sensor Tower, a private digital intelligence firm, present the explosivegrowth in encrypted apps before and after the Russo-Ukrainian war began.

Furthermore, to disguise the user and his location, there was a dramaticsurge by Russian and Ukrainian internet users for Virtual Private Network (VPN)services as indicated in the following chart entitled VPN UseSurges in Ukraine and Russia, provided by Top 10 VPN, aservice that reviews the quality of various VPN services.

An itemized list of downloaded apps – a plethora of VPN services - byRussian citizens to elude the Russian government’s attempts to block oridentify users and locations is presented in the following chart entitled Russia’sMost Downloaded Apps in March provided by Sensor Tower via Quartz.

Russia’s Cyber-Bear Hug

The Kremlin is fervently battling Russian user attempts to reachalternative sources of information that go against the official governmentnarrative. The following chart entitled RussianAttempts to Censor the Internet Skyrocket provided by GoggleTransparency Report compares their efforts against other countries.

With respect to actual Russian government internet shutdowns, thefollowing chart entitled InternetShutdowns Spike in Russia provided by Top10VPN presents a comparisonwith other countries.

At the start of the war the Russian government engaged in aggressivecyber “counter-measures” on the first day of the war (February 24, 2022) with ablitzkrieg of new Twitter accounts promoting pro-Russian sentiments in thefollowing chart entitled SuspiciousActivity on Twitter as Russia Invaded Ukraine by Indiana UniversityObservatory on Social Media (oSoMe).

With respect to the economic cost of these shutdowns through March 22,2022 is indicated in the following chart The Costof Internet Shutdowns provided by Top10VPN.


The following chart entitled WhereGovernments Have the Tightest Grip on the Internet providedby Freedom House presents a 21st century trend of autocratic andilliberal control of social media and the internet.



In every society ranging from full-fledged democracies to totalitarianregimes and every version in-between, government control over information andits citizens attempt to seek alternative news has reached new sophisticated levelsof control over how events are perceived, and ultimately which party hascontrol of the narrative.

In the midst of the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Kremlin’s battle to controlnews flow amongst its citizens is a microcosm of what could evolve elsewhere regardlessthe crisis, the limits of control and how effective will it be on thecitizenry.

With the possible exception of North Korea, total government communicationscontrol of the narrative is impossible. Instead they seek to control thecommunication critical pathways with credible influencers, just as they didduring the pandemic so that the citizenry willingly complies and submit, with ahint of menace for flavor, to government and corporate agendas. The trick forthis public/private cabal is to convince the public that they are protectingthe citizens from themselves for the public good.


© Copyright 2022 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient,beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

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