‘I am not happy . . . but it is good that I get famous,’ Georgian Cyxymu says of the onslaught that brought down Twitter and crippled Facebook and other online services.
The Los Angeles Times and other American newspapers reported that the massive cyber attack last week, seen by security experts as aimed at silencing a single blogger in the country of Georgia, instead made him a global celebrity.
LAT reporter David Colker wrote that “Cyxymu, as he is known on his mostly anti-Russia blog, has been the subject of news reports worldwide ever since he was identified as the target of the attack that took down Twitter for hours and crippled other popular online services.” more from LAT
A comment from Ted Lipien, president of FreeMediaOnline.org, a San Francisco-based media freedom NGO:
This LAT report sheds a new light on the decision made by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to end all on-air Voice of America (VOA) Russian radio and television broadcasts and its planned termination of VOA Georgian radio broadcasts. Despite protests from members of Congress and human rights and media freedom organizations, the BBG in fact terminated Russian-language VOA radio broadcasts at the end of July 2008, only 12 days before Russian troops attacked Georgia. (BBG officials did not have enough time before the outbreak of the Russian-Georgian war to end VOA radio to Georgia, but they still stopped on-air VOA television broadcasts to Russia shortly after the war started.)
Internal BBG documents described the Internet as the optimium program delivery platform for Russia. During President Obama’s historic trip to Russia earlier this summer, the entire Voice of America website was completely crippled for at least two full days by another cyber attack. Instead of using new media and Web 2.0 applications to enhance a sensible and cost-effective multimedia program delivery strategy, the BBG granted the Russian security services full victory in their efforts to limit the access of Western broadcasters to a mass media audience in Russia. In the meantime, Russian state broadcasters, such as Russia Today TV, continued to expand their presence in the American media market without any restrictions.
After Barack Obama’s electoral victory, the Voice of America Russian Service no longer had the necessary technical and human resources to try to reclaim its role as a major on-air radio and television broadcaster capable of conducting interactive live discussion programs with state or independent broadcasters in Russia. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), also managed by the BBG, was allowed to keep its Russian-language radio broadcasts, but RFE/RL does not specialize in American news and most of its Russian staff is based in Russia within easy reach of the secret police operatives assigned to keep an eye on, and if necessary, to intimidate independent journalists.
The current annual audience reach for VOA in Russia is estimated at only 0.2%, which represents a recent 98% decline, largely as a result of the BBG’s actions. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is a bipartisan body which manages U.S. international broadcasting. According to FreeMediaOnline.org sources, only one BBG member voted against ending on-air VOA radio and television programs to Russia.