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    Posts Tagged ‘Politics and SM’

    Social Media in Russia: different dimension again

    Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    It seems like social media in Russia is a place for opposition to express its political views. And the closer it gets to the elections (4th of March), the more anti- and pro-Putin activity we see there. One of the most active platforms is of course blogosphere, where numerous bloggers from both sides attract thousands of readers. However, hackers from Anonymous have recently hacked the mailboxes of the 2 leaders from pro-Kremlin youth organization Rosmolodezh; and the leakage of emails revealed some unexpected facts about how the agiotage in blogosphere is being created. Kristina Potupchik, the press spokesman of the organization, was also responsible for attracting and remunerating people (simple users as well as quite famous bloggers) who wrote posts, comment, and discussions supporting the existing ruling party. Corruption also flourished there; judging by the content of emails which is now in the news, some people were complaining that they did not get any money, although it was planned in the budget. For example, blogger Ilya Varlamov should have been paid 400K Rubles (8.6K British pounds) for his 2 blog posts about Vladimir Putin and United Russia, but he didn’t get any money. However in the interview to BBC he claims that he never writes pro-government or “paid for” blog posts.

    The opposition, however, uses social media more like a place to inform people about the upcoming protest events, as well as to inspire people to demand the fair election procedure during the 4th of March. The closest event will be on the 26th of February, when protestants plan to make a huge live circle around Kremlin. The web page is in Russian, unfortunately, but you can see the map which indicates the place where the protestants will stand. Here is an article from Moscow Times about the event.

    Now it is about 1.5 weeks until the elections and we are really interested in how the events will develop further in social media as well as in official press.

    Related blog posts:

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    Democracy is in action

    Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    We have written a blog post about a famous Russian blogger Alexey Navalny, and his battle against the corruption among Russian governmental authorities and corporations, which is largely done by the means of social media. Today we want to share more insights on it, in the light of the elections in Russia. In the country where there is only one independent elections observer organization, social media’s role gradually started to shift from providing entertainment to spreading the information which otherwise would be shut by local media and press.

    The parliamentary elections which were held a week ago showed that the governing party United Russia this time barely won a half of the votes, 49.5%, comparing with the last election’s result of 64%. Being fed up with the ruling party, which failed to deliver its pre-election promises, the population decided to fight against it with its own means. Being sure that the new elections will be falsified, Navalny in his blog provided very clear instruction on what should each responsible voter do in order not to let United Russia to win as many votes as possible. As the blog post is in Russian, here I will translate the main points:

    • Personal appeal is the most effective way of agitation! Choose at least 5 people who take your opinion seriously and ask them to vote for any party, but not United Russia
    •  Print any of the anti-UR posters and put them around your house, when you go for a walk in the evening
    • Send via Skype and emails any anti-party videos. There are plenty of them in the Youtube.

    The instructions were quite popular. The blog post generated more than 2000 comments, 1000 of shares in Facebook and more than 2500 in Vkontakte, as well as 480 Tweets and 407 “+1” in Google+.

    Moreover, there was announced a contest for a best song against the United Russia party, and the prizes were not bad: the first place got 3600 EUR! The page with the contest got 18.5 millions views in a several weeks.

    The voting process also wasn’t overlooked by the social media activists. There were numerous abuses recorded, which included the filling in the ballots for the absent voters, and so called “carrousel”, when large groups of people vote in different places with the fake documents. While the Western newspapers and independent observers were writing about these videos, the president Dmitry Medvedev denied their legitimacy and described the elections as “honest, fair, and democratic”. Meanwhile, there is a Youtube channel devoted to the cheating in the elections recorded by various volunteer observers. This video tells the story how the ballots appeared to be filled in before the official beginning of the elections (turn on the interactive English subtitles under the video on the right, if you look from the Youtube page):

    The next one is unofficial video shot in one of the schools, which was a voting place. In the beginning of the video someone holds a pack of ballots, seemingly just removed from the ballot box, and stacked neatly one on top of the other, as if being put all by one person (and all were marked for United Russia).

     

    “Democracy is in action”, said Mr. Medvedev after the initial results of the voting were announced, when United Russia had just under 50% of the votes. Perhaps the population of Russia gives this phrase a rather different meaning, when flooding social media with the blogs, videos, comments, and campaigns against the ruling party.

     

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    A Thorn In The Government’s Side

    Posted on: October 11th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. 4 Comments

    This blog post is dedicated to the Russian blogosphere LiveJournal, which is quite an interesting example of social media platform. While Russian media is not being a perfect example of free press, a new platform for expressing opinions is emerging, which is the blogosphere. In Russia, the most prominent blog platform called LiveJournal (LJ) is currently one of the most influential opinion shapers in Russia. As a result, it seems that the government started to attack the LJ in order to silence some of the loudest voices.

    Alexey Navalny’s blog, called by the Time magazine “a thorn in the government’s side”, is the 3rd most popular blog in the whole LiveJournal, with more than 50 thousand subscribers. It is the platform for uncovering the corrupt and seemingly legal actions of the government and big companies of Russia. The  most famous revelations include:

    1. The illegal action of Transneft, the state oil transport monopoly, during the construction of the pipeline East Siberia – Pacific Ocean, which cost around $4 billion for Russian tax payers.
    2. Embezzlement of $150 million by the officials of the Russian state-owned bank VTB.
    3. The massive “expenses for charities” of Rosneft which do not reach any charities.

    Navalny has a great influence among the politically active Russians. He was named the “Private Individual of the Year 2009” by the newspaper Vedomosti.

    However, not everyone admires the corruption-fighter. At the end of April 2011 a cyber attack, the first of its kind, hit Navalny’s blog as well as several other popular blogs in the Russian blogosphere. Interestingly, it happened just after Navalny had drawn huge public attention to Transneft’s case. This obvious coincidence did not remain unnoticed, and the ideas that the attack was initiated by the government began to spread. It seems possible that authorities tried to shut the powerful bloggers, such as Navalny, who, in turn, is “poking them with a sharp stick”.

    The most recent attack was at the end of July. Although even the blog of the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, was down for several hours, the public opinion still agrees that the attack was initiated by the Kremlin. While the Internet community remains upset and lost, Navalny and his followers claim that they are not going to move to other platforms. Taking into account the repetitiveness of the attacks, as well as their obvious targets, I am sure that soon the Russian governmental authorities will have to explain these actions in front of the voters, or take more actions in order to prevent them.

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