A young Russian designer and photographer has created a dark new series of digital artwork criticising Russia’s controversial “sovereign internet” law.
The Russian government says that the law, which came into effect on 1 November, will better protect the country’s networks from cyberattacks by allowing the government to cut internet connections within Russia to the worldwide web “in an emergency”. But with the definition of what constitutes an emergency up to the government to decide, critics are sceptical, and have decried the measure as yet another attempt to crush free speech and limit access to information.
“This new law shows that the government wants to control the internet in the same way as they control television,” artist Lev Pereulkov told The Calvert Journal.
The 21 year-old’s works include a montage where three policemen beat up an angry emoticon with their batons, a reference to this year’s opposition protests which were violently put down by the authorities. Other images seem to come from a post-apocalyptic future, including a graffitied screenshot of the Google search “censorship in Russia”, with “no results found”, and plaques with screen grabs of deleted accounts placed in rundown rooms or streets.
“Thanks to the internet, I received my education, found friends, and work all across the country,” says Pereulkov, who is based in the Russian city of Kazan, Tatarstan. “The potential of the Russian internet is being crushed by censorship. What’s happening now is a war against the future.”
You can follow Pereulkov on Instagram.