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About Irina Borogan

Irina Borogan is a Russian investigative journalist who covers the operations of Russian security services. She is co-founder of the web site Agentura.Ru, which chronicles the services’ activities. Last year, Borogan and Andrei Soldatov co-authored The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB (PublicAffairs).

Articles by Irina Borogan

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The future of Russia's i-curtain

Hot on the heels of a new law establishing a register of forbidden sites, Russian authorities are now promoting a system of 'virtual' borders and international supervision. Their proposal has so far failed to find significant support, but Russia will keep trying, says Irina Borogan

RuNet: Russia on the Chinese road?

A new internet law came into effect in Russia this month. Ostensibly designed to tackle extremist websites, the list of banned sites has already cast a much broader net. Things are likely to get even worse, says Irina Borogan.

Nord-Ost, ten years on

Today marks ten years since the start of the Nord-Ost theatre siege, which ended tragically with a bungled special forces operation and the deaths of at least 170 people. Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov, reporters on the scene, reflect on those dramatic days and the lack of a proper investigation since.

Big Brother, little drones – protestors beware

Russia’s police are starting to use unmanned drones much more often for monitoring street protest rallies, Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov report. This sinister development has the complete support of President Putin.

What force (and forces) can the Kremlin use against the opposition?


The Kremlin’s nervous reaction to May’s ‘March of the Millions’ on Bolotnaya Square, and uncertainty around a protest action planned for tomorrow have led many to suspect that the Russian government is looking seriously at using force to suppress opposition. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan analyse the resources at its disposal.


A near doubling in Russian wiretaps over five years – and that’s only the legal stuff!

In a previous article, Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov asked who was bugging the Russian opposition. Here they develop this theme, looking at how a combination of recent legislation and new technology has allowed Russia’s many security agencies to expand their activities still further.

The Kremlin and the hackers: partners in crime?

The recent Russian parliamentary and presidential elections were notable for the wide use of cyber attacks on the websites of the liberal media, as well as opposition hackers accessing officials’ intranet email exchanges. But was this a question of large-scale collusion between the Kremlin and professional hackers, or an altogether more amateur effort by political activists? In the latest article in their ‘Project ID’ series, Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov investigate the destructive forces targeting the Russian internet.

The Kremlin versus the bloggers: the battle for cyberspace

The Russian authorities became aware of the power of social media late, but have since been making up for lost time with a campaign of dirty tricks against the opposition’s web presence. Irina Borogan and Andrey Soldatov outline the history of the government’s strategy and assess its effectiveness.

Project_ID: Who’s bugging the Russian opposition?

The 2011-12 election cycle has seen the full catalogue of dirty surveillance tricks return to Russian politics, from covert video recording to phone hacking of opposition leaders. Most have pointed the finger of suspicion directly at the door of the FSB. In reality, any one of a number of agencies could have been at work.

Just business: how Russian technology provides the eyes and ears for the world’s Big Brothers

In December 2011, Wikileaks released ‘Spy Files’, a project revealing details of the burgeoning surveillance and interception industry. The list of companies providing high-tech equipment to governments included a number of Russian firms, which are emerging as global leaders in the industry. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan took to investigate how the Soviet Union’s expertise in spy technology is being adapted to the new reality of global capitalism.

The Police International vs Russia’s football fans

As Russia’s largest and best organised ‘horizontal’ community in Russia, football fans have found themselves at the centre of governmental attempts to control informal groups, write Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov. Perhaps more surprisingly, they have also become guinea pigs for international data exchange programmes, with Russian authorities picking up the very worst of surveillance practices from their foreign colleagues.

Small deeds, no politics

Moscow’s protest movement is gathering momentum, bringing in greater numbers and a wider constituency of supporters. What is as yet unclear, however, is whether it has the organisational clout to become a sustained force for change, write Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov.

Putin’s children: flying the nest

For years, a pact of loyalty in exchange for roubles fostered the growth of a largely apolitical middle class in Russia. On Saturday, that middle class turned against their creator. They are, however, some way off uniting behind a single opposition candidate, write Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov.

A face in the crowd: the FSB is watching you!

President Medvedev has made much of Russia’s need for modernisation and advanced technology. One project piloted in some Moscow metro stations involves face recognition using biometric technology. This can clearly be used as protection against terrorism, but given that the organisation which commissioned the project is the FSB, information gained could also be used for other purposes, say Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

The Russian state and surveillance technology

The Russian blogosphere has burgeoned into a open-door sanctuary for all strands of political opinion. Predictably, it has also attracted the attention of the country's security services. Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov present the first in a series of investigations outlining how the Russian state is now monitoring its online public.

The end of anonymity: introducing Project_ID

A new series on openDemocracy Russia

The true Andropov: a response to Andrei Konchalovsky

In the opinion of film director Andrei Konchalovsky the true herald of liberal reform in the Soviet Union was Yury Andropov, not Mikhail Gorbachev. Irina Borogan asks if this is the same Andropov who headed the KGB through two of its darkest decades, who crushed dissidents by incarcerating them in psychiatric wards, and who Putin's propaganda machine has recently attempted to rehabilitate.

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