Censorship or Self-Censorship on GRU?

The impact of an informational hurricane sweeping into Russia from the West in reaction to widespread GRU cyberwarfare operations directed at the NATO countries is still reverberating through Moscow.

On 7 October Nezavisimaya Gazeta‘s chief economic editor, Mikhail Sergeev, published a strongly worded article entitled “Military intelligence has become an economic factor.” Indeed, it has. The Russian economy’s well-being largely hinges on the export of oil and natural gas; the rouble is usually an indicator of how well those sales are doing on world markets. However, Sergeev noted, despite the rise in the price of oil last week the rouble fell. He went on to remark that the “achievements” (in inverted commas) of Russian intelligence could cost the country dearly. On Wednesday the government found no takers for a government bond issue. The market is punishing the régime for acting recklessly.

A critical sign that the Kremlin feels inundated by the storm is that it is battening down the hatches. Sometime after midnight on 7 October Eastern Standard Time/ 8 October in Moscow  the liberal newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, hitherto unusually courageous but still desperate for funds, pulled a startlingly critical headline directed at the GRU and below it three articles that went in to more depth. The Kremlin’s spokesman has declared that it will not respond further to the verbal onslaught from the United States and Europe on the subject of GRU cyber operations in the West and that any references to changes of personnel resulting from this perfect storm are idle speculation. It appears a fierce clampdown is now in place, which only goes to underline the depths of the crisis Moscow has found itself in.