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Intelligence Security Technology

Russia’s New Information Security Doctrine: Guarding a Besieged Cyber Fortress

Victory, Plate 2
Courtesy of Thomas Hawk/Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on 20 December 2016.

Russia´s new Information Security Doctrine follows the line adopted in previous strategic documents whereby Russia is perceived as a besieged fortress. The doctrine identifies a number of external threats to Russia’s information space and calls for intensified monitoring of the Russian segment of the internet, Runet.

On 5 December 2016, President Vladimir Putin signed a new Information Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation, replacing the Information Security Doctrine published in 2000. The Doctrine is one of the strategic planning documents and, as such, it expresses the official view about the management of national security in the information sphere. Rhetorically, the text resembles the National Security Strategy, adopted in December 2015, which signalled a heightened sense of threat towards Russia, and underlined the importance of maintaining strategic stability. Consequently, the spirit of the new Doctrine is sharper, almost bellicose in tone, and the threats are described in more concrete terms.

The information sphere is defined in a broader sense than in the previous doctrine. The key term in this regard is “informatization”, which refers to social, economic and technical processes for adopting and expanding information technology in society and the country as a whole, and for securing access to information resources. This change indicates recognition of the role of the information sphere in technological development but, most importantly, regards it as a tool to change the fabric of society. The Doctrine describes how this tool is used in the interests of Russia’s national security, and calls for an increased role for internet and information security management and the domestic production of information technology.

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Putin’s Plans Lack Plausibility: The future president writes alot but says very little

Arrow sign on a street. Image by pat00139/Flickr.

President-to-be Vladimir Putin has outlined his plans for Russia in a series of newspaper articles. The real question, however, is not what should be done but how the goals can be achieved. This question remains unanswered even after reading through Putin’s articles.

Nowadays it is common to think that Russia is already living according to new rules – although no one is able to clearly articulate what those rules are. The change is visible, however. Take, for example, the ‘Putin Plan’ – a collection of texts that served as the unofficial electoral programme in the previous presidential elections. Few people actually read anything written in that plan, yet everyone remembers the billboards that dominated the political landscape from the smallest village to the biggest cities four years ago.

This time around, Putin’s plans have been presented to the electorate in the form of newspaper articles published in the leading Russian newspapers from January through February 2012. Although Putin is expected to win the March elections, what is at stake in the campaign is the legitimacy of his third presidential term. The article writing is, of course, entirely different from holding free and fair elections, but by engaging with the public outside of the usual realm of state television, the current Prime Minister is signalling that he has got his act together; and what is more, that he has answers to the pressing questions on the future of Russia.