Websites reporting on electoral violations suffered a sustained outage on Sunday, which started from the time the polls opened, and ended with the election’s close, according to local media in Moscow.
According to the Moscow Echo, its website and that of the election monitoring group Golos, were the victims of a cyberattack on Sunday, which left several opposition news sites unavailable to the public.
“The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations,” Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Moscow Echo said on Twitter.
Golos made similar claims, reporting that it was under a DDoS attack the entire time the polls were open. Early Monday morning, Moscow Echo was online, and Golos was available as well, but sluggish.
According to the AFP, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party was expected to win the election, but with a reduced majority. They added that he has denounced non-governmental organisations like Golos, comparing them to the disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus.
Also allegedly attacked on Sunday was the website of the New Times, a Russian weekly that publishes investigative reports on government officials.
Bloggers and other opposition journalists in Russia called the DDoS attacks a criminal act, and used alternative means to communicate. An investigation in to the incidents was called for, but some speculate that it will go nowhere.
An opinion piece in the Moscow Times said that Golos has faced an “unprecedented harassment and intimidation campaign” that started in late November.
“In Belgorod, a Communist Party regional deputy was beaten up by the police. In Perm, the campaign manager for an oppositional party was beaten by unidentified men using baseball bats. In Bratsk, Irkutsk region, unidentified masked men kidnapped the 16-year-old daughter of the head of the local Communist Party branch office. They released her with a message for her mother: Quit the campaign, or we’ll kidnap her for real,” the article explains.
“Unfortunately, all signs suggest that after Putin physically returns to the Kremlin, the country can expect nothing but a continuation of the status quo. The essence of this status quo in Putin-speak is “stability” – the preservation of an absolute monopoly on power in the hands of a very small circle of people.”