Abstract: Over the past decades, internet governance has developed in a tug-of-war between the democratic, transnational nature of the web, and attempts by national governments to put cyberspace under control. Recently, the idea of digital sovereignty has started to increasingly gain more supporters among nation states. This article is a case study on the Russian concept of a “sovereign internet.” In 2019, the so-called law on sustainable internet marked a new milestone in the development of RuNet. Drawing on document analysis and expert interviews, I reconstruct Russia’s strategic narrative on internet sovereignty and its evolution over time. I identify the main factors that have shaped the Russian concept of sovereignty, including domestic politics, the economy, international relations, and the historical trajectory of the Russian segment of the internet. The article places the Russian case in a global context and discusses the importance of strategic narratives of digital sovereignty for the future of internet governance.
Keywords: digital sovereignty; internet governance; Russia; strategic narrative