The scope of the attack on LiveJournal wasn’t clear when the first wave struck in the last week of March, sometimes slowing sites down to a crawl, other times knocking them offline altogether. At first the assault seemed narrowly political in nature, targeting the sites of just one anti-corruption crusader and blogger, Alexei Navalny, who has long been a thorn in the government’s side. Most famously, he once dubbed United Russia, the ruling party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, “the party of swindlers and thieves” — a moniker the party has since been frantically trying to shake.
But this week, the second barrage against LiveJournal — the site’s owners called it “an all-out war” — broke away from the familiar pattern. The onslaught, coming from an army of remotely controlled computers, had no ideological rhyme or reason. The victims included dozens of Russia’s most popular bloggers, ranging from a sentimental fiction writer to a banking tycoon, as well as the LiveJournal homepage. Even the blog of President Dmitri Medvedev, a self-styled techie, came under attacks so powerful that it was inaccessible for several hours on Wednesday.
“This kind of attack is something totally new,” says Marina Litvinovich, a former government spin doctor who went on to create Russia’s main aggregator of blog posts, BestToday.ru. “It is an attempt to uproot not one user but the entire LiveJournal community, which appears to have become too influential, too strong in setting the political agenda of the day.”
That awkward moment when shit is a lot more real than you thought it was