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[liberationtech] Before Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, the Soviet coup attempt

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Mon Jan 31 22:14:06 PST 2011


From: Larry Press <lpress at csudh.edu>
Date: Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:02 PM

The first example of network citizen journalism may have been during the
August 1991 coup attempt by eight high level Soviet officials. There were
two days of confrontation between demonstrators and troops, during which all
Russian media except Usenet news groups were shut down by the authorities.
Usenet, a precursor of today's Internet discussion forums, carried traffic
into, out of and within Russia (70 cities) during the days of the coup
attempt.

One of the quotes from that time foreshadows the Internet shut down in Egypt
today. Polina Antonova of RELCOM, the Unix distributor that operated the
network wrote:

"They try to close all mass media, they stopped CNN an hour ago, and Soviet
TV transmits opera and old movies.  But, thank Heaven, they don't consider
RELCOM mass media or they simply forgot about it.  Now we transmit
information enough to put us in prison for the rest of our life".

After two tense days, the coup failed and president Mikhail Gorbachev was
restored to power. For more on the role of the network during the coup
attempt, including links to archives of the traffic, see:

http://cis471.blogspot.com/2011/01/before-twitter-revolutions-there-was.html

Larry Press
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