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Back in the day, one of the obstacles that stood in the way of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the high level of offline and online distribution of counterfeit products in the country. At the time, a certain amount surrounded the closure of the most famous platform for illegal music – For Russians, it was all rather amusing considering that they could not imagine how it was possible to pay for pirated music. Whereas western users could not imagine that paid-for music, even if it was cheaper than on iTunes, might be pirated. It was this orientation towards the foreign market that led to AllOfMp3’s being buried eight years ago.

As later experience has demonstrated, piracy – particularly on a gigantic scale – can be undertaken in Russia with impunity. Well, almost. From time to time, there are showy campaigns with curious results, such as the funny renaming of songs and artists. On the whole, however, with the exception of a few rarities, one can still find any music or film for free on the Russian internet within a couple of minutes.

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There’s less than a week to go before Turkey’s critical general election. On June 7th, Turkish voters will go to the polls for the third time in two years (after voting in local and presidential elections). The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power for 13 years, but only now is the party leadership talking about the possibility of a coalition government, repeatedly warning citizens how detrimental this would be. The AKP’s potential loss of power depends on how the pro-Kurdish HDP performs in the polls. If this latter is able to cross the 10-percent threshold, it will take 40 seats from the AKP.

So far, the ruling party has been able to maintain a parliamentary majority because of the high threshold. It obtains most of the seats in Kurdish-inhabited cities because candidates from Kurdish parties have to be independent in order to bypass the threshold, which in turn decreases the total number of seats for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The Research Institute on Turkey, a grassroots initiative, has provided simulations about the possible number of seats that the HDP could get. I believe that some voters who are opposed to the AKP but are not convinced by the HDP might well decide to vote for it anyway for tactical reasons in order to weaken the ruling party’s parliamentary power.

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“The government can’t protect people in their bedrooms” the prime minister angrily retorted when questioned about the brutal murder of a young couple, both journalists, in their own home. Three years later the police have not made any progress in their investigation. No charges have been brought. After the murder of the bloggers it seems, the government is unable to protect you in the streets, at a book fair or even on the doorstep of your own home.

Intolerance appears to be the order of the day in Bangladesh, impunity the general rule and denial the default  response. Since the government and the entire state machinery have been so occupied with arresting, killing and or arranging for the disappearance of opposition activists, any citizen not directly linked to the power structures is a potential target not only for the state machinery, but also for a host of racketeers, extortionists, fundamentalists or plain opportunists.  The judiciary no longer allows anyone to challenge the government even more worryingly the police are demanding that torture be made legal.

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Bangladesh no longer ‘safe’ for bloggers

Arafatul Islam

Another blogger has been murdered in Bangladesh. Award winning blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was an active contributor to the Mukto-Mona blog site, which won a DW Bobs jury award this year.

31-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das, who was hacked to death in the Sylhet division of Bangladesh on May 12, 2015, is the latest victim of an Islamist campaign against bloggers in the country. He was one of 84 bloggers and activists named on a hit list compiled by Islamists which has been circulating on the internet since 2013. Nine people from the so-called hit list have already been slain. Although its existence has not been officially confirmed by police, the blogging community in Bangladesh is convinced the killings are taking place in accordance with the hit list.

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