Don’t phone home, Ivan

19 February: Russia’s Duma has approved legislation banning servicemen from having mobile phones (or any electronic recording or storage device) while on active service. The measure has now been passed to President Putin for approval. Citizen journalists in the West have been using soldiers’ social media posts to establish their whereabouts in places such as Syria, Ukraine or Chechnya. For instance, the website Bellingcat used this sort of data to prove that a Russian unit was involved in the shooting down of the MH17 airliner over Ukraine in 2014. There has been a ban on social posts that might lead to such identifications for some time, but it is proving impossible to police. A complete ban on electronic devices is seen as the next stage forward. The Duma’s defence committee is now considering whether a military intranet should be established to allow servicemen, many of whom are very young, to stay in touch with their families.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *