Almost 14 thousand citizens arrested for even a single tweet. Many have canceled their accounts, but there are those who use coded messages to organize protests
A codified language to be able to communicate without incurring censorship and retaliation by the Moscow government. Opposition in Russia from the end of February began use emojis to convey information and organize their sit-ins against Vladimir Putin. A digital solution to circumvent the new restrictions of the Kremlin, with the Duma that in recent days had promptly approved a law that provides up to 15 years in prison for anyone in the country who supports Ukraine, criticizes the invasion of the Russian army or even just pronounces the term “war“. To find themselves in Pushkin Square, in Moscow, the demonstrators took care to organize their own protest appointment by spreading on social media the image of the Russian poet Pushkin, the number 7, which referred to the time and the repeated emoji of the walking man. A ploy to avoid immediate repercussions on the part of the authorities, which in this way were not and are unable to prevent the moves of the dissidents. All this while remembering that Unauthorized demonstrations in Russia have been banned since 2014 and punished with 15 days in prison for anyone who dares to utter even one sentence against the government. On the second, the sentence increases up to 5 years of imprisonment.
It is therefore not surprising that the citizens who oppose the Kremlin, in disagreement with the decisions of Vladimir Putin, more than ever now with the outbreak of the war, have over time found alternative ways of exchanging information and messages, also exploiting the potential offered by contemporary digital tools. Thus arose the need not to be intercepted by the authorities, especially if you want to promote an online protest. There are jokes and memes in chats, combinations of emoji images and coded messagesany reference that may be useful to evade censorship but at the same time send precise messages to their companions. Knowing how to disguise one’s intentions is fundamental in a context where even a tweet can cost freedomwith several citizens taken by the police at the first opinion expressed on their social channels. A woman was arrested while on the train for a post published five days earlier. A boy was stopped on a day when he was not taking part in the protests, even though he had previously taken to the streets to demonstrate. Currently, reports the BBC, they are almost 14 thousand people temporarily detained by the police for such behavior.
Fear and self-censorship
With the de facto suppression of independent media, even in Russia alone getting informed by breaking free from state channels has become a real challenge. Facebook blocked, Tik Tok blacked out, many people censor themselves to avoid retaliation by the authorities. OVD-Infoa media project in the country that promotes human rights, defends freedom of expression and fights political persecution, through its coordinator Leonid Drabkin points out that even on Instagram the activity of users of the country has significantly decreased, terrified by the fact that even the slightest reference, wanted or unwanted, could be a pretext for the police to arrest you. There are those who have decided, often reluctantly, to directly cancel their account from the platform, otherwise they have at least changed their name, using pseudonyms and nicknames that cannot be traced back to their own identity. Coded messages can therefore be a brilliant ploy, but equally dissidents must always come up with new ideas. The Russian police cannot afford to concede anything, tracking down suspicious information on social media as in a real “witch hunt”.
March 10, 2022 (change March 10, 2022 | 11:00)
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