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Kremlin Tells Governors to Blog, or Pack their Bags

The Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that the Kremlin, worried about the waning influence of official mass media in the regions, has told regional governors to become active bloggers and participants in online social networks, or risk losing their posts. The article further explains that the governors’ Internet activities will become one of the criteria by which their effectiveness will be judged, and that those who do not perform well will be weeded out.

According Nezavisimaya Gazeta (my rough translation):

In the Kremlin…there is a fear that in the not too distant future, the use of virtual technologies, including blogs and social networks, will be used not only to form relations to the representatives of the ruling class, but also will have a real effect on the outcome of voting in elections.

The push is also part of a plan to expand broadband access to the regions, and it is expected that this will allow for both commercial and political development in the regions.

The governors will likely have a steep learning curve, since only three of the governors of Russia’s 89 regions currently have a blog–but the Kremlin says they have a good example to follow in President Medvedev.

Paul Gobel wonders if this will have unintended consequences–especially if Governors are allowed to speak freely about their priorities:

…this latest Kremlin drive may have some interesting consequences both for Russia and for those who study that country. For Russia, such an increase in largely uncontrolled media outlets almost certainly will lead to the expression of a greater range of opinions, even if those maintaining these blogs do not intend that.

And for those who study Russia, the rise of such blogs will require a new research approach, one that will increasingly have to track not just what is in the official or semi-official print and electronic media but also what senior officials and politicians are saying in this most febrile of media.

We’ll be all over this as part of our blog research if it pans out, but I personally doubt that the governors will be especially gifted bloggers, or that they will stray very far from the party line.

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One Response to “Kremlin Tells Governors to Blog, or Pack their Bags”

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