The 11th Russian Internet Governance Forum (RIGF 2021) opened in Moscow on April 7. The event will be on for three days and includes seven sessions and three award giving ceremonies, with more than 50 speakers and over 700 registered participants. The offline opening ceremony was attended by 120 audience members while around 1,000 watched the ceremony on Zoom, on YouTube or on the forum’s official website rigf.ru.
RIGF 2021 has brought together leading Russian and foreign experts, representatives of government bodies and international public organizations as well as Russian university students who have an interest in internet security and global internet governance.
As is customary, RIGF 2021 also starts on the anniversary of Russia’s country code domain .RU marked on April 7. 2021 is no exception. Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ Andrey Vorobyev congratulated the domain on its 27th anniversary and added that since the previous forum, approaches to internet governance have undergone significant changes: “The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to stop for a moment, think carefully and reconsider many aspects of it. As far as internet governance is concerned, for the past couple of years, we have no longer heard any talk about a global internet village. We can see that the balance between the interested parties has been upset, cybersecurity issues exacerbated. There are some positive aspects though. The internet infrastructure in Russia and in other countries passed the stress test. For three days, we’re concentrating on trying to come up with expert answers to new questions and challenges.”
Maksut Shadayev, Russian Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, opened the forum by pointing out the following: “The internet is the neural system of modern society and it requires to be dealt with, with care. Russia was at the roots of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the first country in Eurasia with a national internet governance forum. Today we are dealing with new challenges and threats which call for new responses. The dialogue on the RIGF platform is precious. I would like to wish all the people taking part in this forum every success and to assure them that the issues discussed here will be considered and may become a reality.”
Tatyana Matveyeva, Head of the Department for the Development of Information and Communication Technologies and Communications Infrastructure at the Russian Presidential Executive Office, added that cooperation is a dialogue that produces agreements and arrangements; currently, as the internet is seeing more challenges, it is very important to listen to each other and make the right decisions, including internationally.
Maksut Shadayev and Tatyana Matveyeva hosted an award giving ceremony to present prizes and commendation letters for the contribution to building and developing the Russian internet. During this symbolic event on the anniversary of .RU, six Coordination Center representatives received the awards. Coordination Center Director Andrey Vorobyev, Deputy Director Irina Danelia, Head of the Department of Registrar and User Relations Georgy Georgiyevsky and Head of Technical Support for the Department of Registrar and User Relations Lyubov Vidanova received commendation letters from the Russian President. First Deputy Director of the Coordination Center Vladimir Gorzhaltsan and Deputy Director Andrey Romanov received the medals of the Order for Services to the Fatherland (2nd degree).
Alexander Khinshtein, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications, continued the opening ceremony. He noted in his remarks that the Russian technological system and internet infrastructure were ready for the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Thanks to their readiness, the Russian internet has made a qualitative leap in its development over the past year,” he said. “Russia has always been famous for its ‘golden brains’ and we have numerous examples of successful IT projects. We need to prioritize Russian assets in all segments of our digital life.” Alexander Khinshtein also called for developing a collective social agreement between the state, businesses and users that would make the digital sphere more user-friendly and safe, helping the internet become a positive learning environment.
Anriette Esterhuysen, Chair of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group, also greeted the participants and noted the role of RIGF in developing the global internet governance. She encouraged all the participants to attend IGF 2021, due to be held in Poland in November. She elaborated on the current problems at present in the focus of attention of IGF, such as economic matters, social inclusivity, human rights, connectivity and providing access to the internet to every person in the world, cybersecurity, digital inequality, climate change, inclusivity and many other things.
VimpelCom President Rashid Ismailov, who is also Russia’s candidate for International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General this year, noted in his remarks that every country has its own legislation but we all share the same internet and “balkanization” of the internet is not on anybody’s agenda. “We need to preserve the internet as it is today and develop it accordingly.”
Youth Digital Ombudsman Dmitry Gulyayev and his colleague Alexey Starikov presented the results of the 1st Russian youth forum on internet governance, Youth RIGF 2021. One of the outcomes of the forum, a Youth Message, reads, in part: “We see the internet as a secure and friendly environment where every person can decide who to be, how to learn a new profession, how to receive and transfer new knowledge. We see the internet as a space with freedom of speech, a place of universal equality and priority for general human values, where technological achievements contribute to preserving our diversity. We support minimizing the damaging impact of modern technology on the environment and human health.”
The opening ceremony continued with the IP&IT LAW 2021 awards ceremony honoring six winners of the national youth competition of research pieces on IT and intellectual property law.