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Is Russia Becoming the World’s Next North Korea?

An isolated Russia is a constant threat to world stability, and its invasion of Ukraine proves that it may be far more dangerous than North Korea

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As Vladimir Putin intensifies his attacks against Ukraine, he is also isolating Russia from the world to such an extent that he is leading his country to become a pariah state or the next North Korea.

A pariah state is one whose conduct is considered to be outside international norms of behavior. North Korea, for example, is on such a list because of its production and use of weapons of mass destruction, lack of freedom of speech and democracy, and violation of human rights.

Last week Putin staged the most macabre speech in the history of his presidency. He went so far as to say that “traitors should be spat out like a gnat.”

The Western world has implemented sanctions with the intention of pressuring Moscow to abandon the aggression against Ukraine; however, beyond trying to persuade him, there are measures that directly affect Russian citizens, pushing them to live in a kind of hermetic tyranny with economic and technological isolation.

Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official and author of Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America, told Fox News that Putin’s attitude against free speech is echoing the censorship lived in North Korea.

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Goodbye to social media

Internet access is limited in North Korea. The network, called Kwangmyong, is a free service for public use and can only be used with government authorization in Internet cafés and terminals with the Red Star operating system, a software that runs an adapted version of the Firefox browser, called Naenara. There is no Windows, Explorer or Chrome. Nor can any global social network be accessed.

Since 2016 there is a law in North Korea that prohibits all Western social networks, and orders increased operational security.

Russia seems to be going the same way. After the beginning of the invasion in Ukraine on February 24, the authorities tightened the control of information. In fact, a Russian court recently banned the social networks Facebook and Instagram on the grounds that they carry out “extremist” activities.



These two social networks had already been banned a few days ago, as well as Twitter and the websites of most of the independent Russian media. The only way to access them is through a virtual private network (VPN).

However, the messaging app WhatsApp, also owned by Meta, has not yet been affected by this measure, as the court deemed that it is not used as a means of “public dissemination of information.”

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (EFE)

Farewell to journalism

There is no independent journalism in North Korea; in fact, journalists who risk disseminating information can be punished even with their own death. Meanwhile, foreign journalists who cause any discomfort to the regime are detained and deported.

According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, central news agency KCNA is the only one in North Korea authorized to provide official information to other media.


“Although the official stance of the North Korean authorities is to show greater flexibility towards the foreign press, the norm is still to exercise meticulous control over the information it can access,” it says.

In Russia, following the invasion, Putin signed a law on March 4 that aims to punish journalists with imprisonment for publishing news that contradicts government statements about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Individuals who violate the law will face up to 15 years in prison.

Cesar Sabas, an expert in international relations and international security, told El American that “the war has given Putin the perfect opportunity to ban social networks.”

“History tells us that sanctions end up having adverse effects. It is usually the population who suffers the most from the consequences, and they rather end up reinforcing state control,” he said.

“The war has given Putin the perfect opportunity to ban social networks. Now only those that are controlled by the Kremlin are available to Russians, in true Chinese style,” added the specialist who explained that thanks to Russian propaganda and disinformation, a large part of the population supports the Kremlin’s actions.

“Putin is popular within the population. Sociologically Russians are characterized by not being afraid of acute social crises, and rather confronting them. So if Putin sells this invasion of Ukraine as a nationalist struggle, the Russian population should, if it follows its historical pattern, be more than willing to suffer the consequences in order to support a cause they consider national. Let’s remember that in Russia the media is controlled and there is only one line of information,” he explained.

Persecution and repression as a leitmotiv

In North Korea it is forbidden to hold demonstrations or protests, there is no opposition or freedom of expression. Russia, which hasn’t been a free country in which to dissent either, has intensified repression against the anti-war population in recent weeks.

Vladimir Putin took a series of measures to crack down on dissent by imprisoning people who protest, and even journalists who report on what his government is doing in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, officials have arrested at least 15,000 people, according to OVD-Info, an independent human rights project focused on Moscow’s political persecution.

One human rights activist, Marina Litvinovich, called for mass protests last week in a Facebook video, claiming that the Russian people oppose the war. She was arrested shortly after uploading the video to the social network.

“We, the Russian people, are against the war unleashed by Putin. We do not support this war, it is not being waged in our name,” Litvinovich said.

“Russia is closing itself off to the West, but not to the rest of the world”

Sabas asserts that the risk of Russia becoming a giant North Korea is a political matter rather than economic.

“Russia is closing itself off from the West, but not from the rest of the world. Its national coat of arms is the double-headed eagle, while one side faces Europe, the other faces Asia, so I think Russia will close itself to Europe, but not to Asia or other areas,” said the specialist.

“For me, the risk of seeing Russia become a giant North Korea is more political than economic. An isolated and abhorred Russia can be a revanchist Russia, constantly threatening stability. And the problem is that Russia has far more means than North Korea to do so,” he added.

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