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Russian Culture Minister Calls for ‘Patriotic Internet’ to Block Western Influence

As East-West relations continue to deteriorate, Moscow has increased calls for “patriotic” ideals to be entrenched into culture, media, and schools.
Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Russia is now seeking to form a new kind of bloc — the type that would filter out Western ideas from its web browsers.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has called for the creation of a "patriotic internet" to reinforce Russian values and keep out anti-Moscow voices that are "against the truth," the Moscow Times reported.

The country must "consolidate the state and society on the basis of values instilled by our history," Medinsky wrote in a statement published Tuesday on the website of a military historical society he chairs.


"Against us — and that means against the truth — a new blitzkrieg has begun," Medinsky wrote. "We need a patriotic trend in the public conscience. We need films, books, exhibitions, modern video games, we need a patriotic Internet, patriotic radio and television."

Medinsky's call has already garnered support from Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who signed the statement along with several Russian army generals and film director Nikita Mikhalkov. They cited a televised statement made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk during his recent visit to Berlin as their motivation. Yatsenyuk referenced a "Soviet invasion of Ukraine, as well as of Germany."

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Yatsenyuk later told the television station he was speaking about the post-WWII Soviet occupation of East Germany, but the statement elicited outrage from Moscow, where bubbling tensions with Kiev have reached a boiling point following months of violent confrontations over Ukraine's contested east.

The Kremlin has long accused Ukraine of being the West's puppet, and, shortly after Yatsenyuk's segment aired, Medinsky condemned the comments as the "first barrage against the historical truth, made by Yatsenyuk and his Einsatzgruppen," a reference to the SS death squads of Nazi Germany.

The minister also compared the recent Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris to Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, where Kiev's army is still fighting Russian-backed separatists despite a tenuous four-month ceasefire.


"We cannot yield to the nonchalance of Europe, where the chants 'I am Charlie' are droning out the roar of artillery barrages by the Ukrainian army against the peaceful towns of the Donbass," Medinsky said.

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The West and Kiev have continued to blame Russia for lighting a fire under the insurgency in Ukraine's east, and implemented crippling sanctions on Moscow that have contributed to the country's recent economic woes. Moscow maintains it never sent troops across the border or weapons to aid the Ukrainian rebels.

While frigid East-West relations have dipped to an all-time post-Cold War low, Russia has intensified calls for increased "patriotic" ideals to be entrenched into the country's culture, media, and educational institutions.

The latest call for a patriotic internet to incubate an "ideological counteroffensive in this war for the minds," follows a proposal last spring from a Russian senator who sought the establishment of a "sovereign" intranet that would virtually block out the rest of the world — similar to North Korea's totally censored nationwide network.

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Follow Liz Fields on Twitter:@lianzifields