Not long ago, it was an oasis of free expression amid stifling censorship.
With a vise grip on other media, the Kremlin once appeared content to more or less leave the Internet alone. And in this last frontier of freedom, blogs flourished and social media were vibrant and irreverent.
In many ways, the Russian Internet played the role of the kitchen table in the Soviet Union -- the place where you could say the things you would never dare utter in public.
That, of course, has all changed. Russian authorities are policing the Internet like never before. Websites are being blacklisted and blocked. And users are prosecuted for posting anything deemed extremist.
A big chill is settling over the Russian Internet. Or is it?
On the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss how much the online atmosphere in Russia has actually changed since the Kremlin's Internet crackdown.
Joining me are RFE/RL digital media editor Glenn Kates; Kevin Rothrock, editor of Global Voices' RuNet Echo project; and Moscow-based journalist, playwright, and social media personality Natalia Antonova.
Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.