Websites which revealed violations in Russia’s legislative polls were targeted in a mass hacking attack Sunday their operators said was aimed at preventing the exposure of mass election fraud. Popular Russian radio station Moscow Echo and election monitoring group Golos said their websites were the victims of massive cyber attacks, while several opposition news sites were inaccessible.
“The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations,” Moscow Echo editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov wrote on Twitter.
Golos said it was the victim of a similar “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack, while several other opposition news sites were down. The Moscow Echo is popular among the liberal opposition although it is owned by state gas giant Gazprom. After the close of polls on Sunday, the Moscow Echo website was working again but the Golos website was still inaccessible.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose United Russia party is expected to win Sunday’s polls but with a reduced majority, has denounced non-governmental organisations like Golos, comparing them to the disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus.
Russia has seen an upsurge in Internet penetration since the last elections in 2007, and analysts have said the explosion of critical material on the web poses one of the biggest challenges to United Russia’s grip on power.
Golos said on Twitter that its main website as well as the “Map of Violations” site detailing claims of fraud across Russia were under “massive DDoS attacks”.
Golos head Liliya Shibanova said the authorities seemed especially angry at their Map of Violations project, where people could upload any information or evidence of election violations. “It’s a very expensive operation,” Shibanova said of the attacks. “It’s a big organisation with plenty of means that must have done it.”
Shibanova, who was held for nearly 12 hours Saturday by customs officials who also confiscated her computer, said the attack consisted of 50,000 hits per second by computers attempting to access the Golos website.
Full Article: AFP: Websites downed in Russia poll ‘hack attack’.