Extensive discussion of Putin clamping down [see full article at link ]:
'...In November 2011, one of my graduate students emailed me a link to a YouTube video. He said it was about Russia and that it would shock me. I doubted it: after following economic and political events in post-Soviet Russia for twenty years, I felt I was unshockable. I was wrong. My jaw dropped as I watched 20,000 ordinary Russians booing Vladimir Putin as he stepped into a ring at a martial arts match to introduce the fighters. A few weeks later, when the December 2011 parliamentary elections were held, Putin’s United Russia Party still won, but only by a slim majority. Multiple reports of election fraud spread quickly on social media after the polls closed, and people took to the streets in the largest popular demonstrations since the fall of the Soviet Union.
It was around this time that one of my closest Russian colleagues told me that he believed that the only thing that Putin truly feared was the power of “uncontrolled” social media. In the year that had then just passed, Putin had watched as, one by one, leaders of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa were overthrown by protesters during the Arab Spring. He was determined not to allow this to happen in the streets of Moscow.
A month ahead of the March 2012 presidential election, some 100,000 Russians demonstrated in -18° C temperatures in Moscow, calling for a rerun of the disputed December parliamentary elections—to no avail: Putin won his third term. But the day before his inauguration, violent clashes erupted between police and some 20,000 protesters in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square. He responded by signing a law criminalizing public protests without a permit. Even so, on June 12, about 70,000 brave demonstrators marched in defiance. The war between Russian civil society and the Kremlin was on. Unfortunately, it received limited attention outside Russia, much less any credible coverage on traditional media inside Russia—which the government already controlled....
In July 2012, Putin signed the Internet Restriction Law, which established a federal blacklist of websites containing any content that the government deemed “extreme.” The law permitted Roskomnadzor, the mass-media regulator, to block—without a court order—public access to any website; it also expanded a ten-year-old statute, the Law on the Counteraction of Extremist Activity, that permitted courts to issue cease and desist orders at the government’s request to media companies that published or aired material that could be damaging to an individual’s image. There would be no more satirical puppet shows mocking politicians....'