Writing books takes a lot of time, and the work on this one was a rather long journey. It probably started in 1996 in Moscow, when the Internet was the very first topic Andrei was assigned to cover as a journalist at the newspaper Segodnya, or in 1997 when Irina decided to move to the newspaper department that conducted investigations. Along the way many colleagues supported us. We owe much to Lyudmila Telen and Michael Shevelev, whom we met in 2004 at Moskovskie Novosti and who have encouraged us ever since. Marina Latysheva, our best friend for many years, has been a source of constant and never-ending support. Nick Fielding never hesitated to offer his much-appreciated advice. Mort Rosenblum was a source of inspiration about journalism. We are grateful to Olga Pashkova, the courageous and flamboyant director of the website Ezhednevny Journal, or Ej.ru, who invited us to write for the website and was always willing to accept our ideas, including the 2009 project, “Control Over Society: Methods of the Kremlin,” which laid the first research groundwork for the book. Ej.ru has been blocked in Russia since March 2014 but remains alive and online.
As it is getting more difficult to publish journalistic investigations in Russia, we are very grateful to our colleagues and friends at OpenDemocracy, Wired.com, World Policy Journal, and the Guardian. With their help, our stories on surveillance and censorship in Russia were published and eventually found their way back to a Russian audience.
We began working on the topic of the book intensively in 2012, and since then we have been very lucky to find new friends in Russia and beyond. We are very grateful to Alexander Verkhovsky, an extremely brave director of the SOVA Center, who is the best expert on Russian nationalist movements, a dangerous topic for research. He helped us when we needed it most. Our thanks also go out to Sergei Lukashevsky and Lena Kaluzhskaya, at the Sakharov Center, who very generously gave us an opportunity to test our ideas in a series of discussions at the center in 2012–2014 and who made it possible to bring our friends from international organizations concerned with privacy and surveillance issues to Moscow to exchange ideas and information.
We are very grateful to Ron Deibert and his group at Citizen Lab as well as Gus Hosein and his team at Privacy International. They proved to be good friends, and we enjoyed working together. Our special thanks go to Max Kashulinsky, at Slon.ru, whom we worked with at Segodnya back in the 1990s; Max helped us secure a series of interviews crucial for this book. And Svetlana Reiter, at RBC, was extremely generous with her contacts and insights. Our special thanks goes to Sally McGrane; she wrote the very first article about Agentura.Ru in 2000, and helped with advice and editing for the paperback edition.
We would like to thank the officials in the Russian Ministry of Communications, former and acting, who shared their knowledge and opinions with us. Many of them are genuinely concerned not with a fictional threat to Russia’s “digital sovereignty” but that the country they worked to open in the 1990s is trying to shut itself off from the world.
We are deeply indebted to Clive Priddle of PublicAffairs, who never flagged in his trust in us and our ideas. This book would not have been possible without PublicAffairs’ founder, Peter Osnos, who has been a key source of support since he published our first book, The New Nobility, in 2010.
Special appreciation is due to David Hoffman, a contributing editor at the Washington Post, who spent a year assisting us as we developed the idea into the book and then spent two very hard weeks with us in Moscow helping to frame and edit the manuscript. We are very grateful to Michael Birnbaum, the Post’s Moscow bureau chief, for his hospitality as we hammered out the manuscript. And, as always, we thank Robert Guinsler, our agent at Sterling Lord Literistic.
We would be remiss not to add that we are indebted to Mikhail Gorbachev, who did more than anyone else to free information in our country.