Internet helps political opposition in Russia

Wed 29 February 2012 10:00, Tamara Yadvichuk

Internet helps political opposition in Russia

On February 26th. Moscow saw a flash-mob political protest called Big White Circle, during which thousands of people formed a live chain along the Garden Ring, the street encircling the center of Moscow.  According to Interfax.ru, up to 11 thousand people participated in the event, which received coverage in Russian and foreign media even before it took place.

The protest was organized to support fair voting, in fact opposing the likely victory of current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the upcoming presidential elections. However, the only indication of this was a number of white ribbons (the symbol of political opposition in Russia) in people’s hands and on passing cars. 

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Picture by A. Usachev (more pictures here)

The event was organized entirely through the internet. Anyone could go to the dedicated website, log in using a social media account and indicate the point on the map where he or she would be standing. Despite the DDoS attacks the site received last week, the event took place at 14:00 as scheduled and lasted about two hours (although the number of people who joined was a lot smaller than the goal of 34000).

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This is not the first time when political movements in Russia rely on online resources. Last year Gazeta.ru and ‘Golos’ association launched 'Map of Violations' – an online resource used to watch and report any unlawful actions during the elections period. Some political demonstrations have been organized simply as open events on Facebook or VKontakte, the most popular social network in Russia.

Contrary to the massive use of the internet by the opposition, the online part of Vladimir Putin’s election campaign is largely limited to one website. Stanislav Govorukhin, head of Putin’s election headquarters even goes as far as saying that the internet is controlled by the American government and all in all it is a dump full of lies. ‘For example, on Twitter they are now writing that I am making some statements, although I am not making any, – Govorukhin says in a talk show on NTV, a popular Russian TV channel. – Besides, I don’t know what Twitter is’.

I’ll keep you posted on the online developments around the upcoming elections in Russia. Meanwhile, if you speak Russian you can enjoy this video of Stanislav Govorukhin talking about the internet.


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