Russian bloggers allege cyber-conspiracy
Moscow - Russian bloggers complained on Saturday as the most popular blogging website Livejournal was down for the third consecutive day, with some alleging the cyber-attack had been timed to prevent people from discussing Sunday's vote.
The website had been down repeatedly since Monday, with the service administrators explaining it as a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), which overloads a website's bandwidth by making thousands of computers access it repeatedly.
"Yes, they are still attacking. They must have a mountain of money," head of Livejournal Ilya Dronov wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday as people inundated him with complaints that they were not able to access their accounts.
"One could predict that they would down Livejournal before the elections," another Livejournal employee and popular blogger Rustem Adagamov wrote earlier this week. "And so they have, unfortunately."
"At least now we know where these attacks stem from," he wrote, though without further explanation.
Govt behind it?
Other bloggers seemed sure that the attacks were organised by the government.
"Livejournal is down. I wonder which section of the budget is paying for the DDoS," blogger Alexander Tashkinov wrote on Twitter.
"It's very easy to figure out that Russia is having elections tomorrow: Livejournal is down," wrote Nadia Ivanova.
Livejournal was created by a US college student in 1999 but was purchased by a Russian media company SUP in 2007 after proving wildly popular with Russians using it for creative and political discussion, including by the opposition.
It has helped launch several grassroots campaigns, such as the anti-corruption drive by Alexei Navalny, whose political notoriety started with his blog, or a motorists' campaign against the officials' misuse of flashing blue lights to bypass traffic regulations.
In April, a series of DDoS attacks lasted several days, prompting some popular bloggers to suggest that the authorities were orchestrating a cyberwar to silence free political discussion.
"The attack on it is preparation for parliamentary and presidential elections," opposition politician Boris Nemtsov said in April. "It's pure politics."