Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The Power Vertical

Putin's Bad Internet Week

A woman looks at a computer monitor displaying the main page of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's election campaign website.
A woman looks at a computer monitor displaying the main page of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's election campaign website.
Vladimir Putin is having a very bad week online. 
 
The Russian premier once derisively dismissed the Internet as "50 percent pornography." But with more and more of his compatriots getting wired and web savvy he has had no choice but to at least try and embrace the medium. And the results have not been pretty.
 
Putin posted his presidential campaign platform online today on a slick new website featuring flattering photos of him skiing, playing hockey, fishing, hunting, and riding horseback. The most popular comments that initially appeared on the site, however, were somewhat less flattering -- to say  the least. 
 
"Please leave politics," wrote a man identified as Andrei Antonenko. "We understand that power is like a drug, but this would be a dignified act." Another man, Arkady Vishnev, suggested that dropping out of the March 4 presidential election "would be the most useful thing you could still do for the country." Svetlana Sorokina, a well-known blogger, also called on Putin to resign as prime minister and quit the presidential race to prevent "the situation to become a revolutionary one."
 
Another commenter, Mikhail Meshkov wrote: "I'm tired of you. I've already tolerated you for 12 years and it's still the same. If you win [another term] a lot of my friends are thinking about leaving Russia. Do you need this? Do we? I don't. I want to live in a normal country. So get out before its too late "
 
The negative comments were quickly removed from the site and were replaced by comments praising Putin and calling on him to impose censorship and to take measures to halt the financing of NGOs from abroad. 
 
But in the latest incident of the Kremlin getting punked by Russia's agile blogging community, they were preserved on LiveJournal with helpful before-and-after screen grabs
 
As a result, the controversy over the comments overshadowed the launch of Putin's electoral platform everywhere except the state-run media.
 
Today's Internet fail came just a day after Putin tried to use one of his tried-and-true tactics of dressing down a subordinate on television -- but was later harshly rebuked in cyberspace. 
 
During a televised videoconference with regional governors on Tuesday, Putin claimed that hot water fees had risen by 40 percent in the Kirov Oblast -- which is led by Nikita Belykh, the only opposition figure holding a high government post in Russia. "Why on earth did hot water prices jump 40 percent?" Putin asked.
 
When he learned that Belykh was on vacation, he ordered Deputy Governor Aleksei Kuznetsov to "send him a little signal."
 
In the end, however, it was Putin who got a signal -- sent Wednesday via Belykh's blog on LiveJournal.
 
Putin was mistaken about the price hike, Belykh wrote in a post complete with photos of documents proving his claim. The apparent 40 percent price increase was actually an accounting error that has long been corrected. And as far as his vacation goes, Belykh wrote the following: "Those who follow my work know that I don't abuse my vacation privileges, to put it mildly. Over three years, I've accumulated 131 unused vacation days."
 
This week's embarrassments were only the latest incidents of the Kremlin getting outmaneuvered online. 
 
When President Dmitry Medvedev tried to address the protests following the contested December 4 parliamentary elections on his Facebook page, he faced a deluge of negative comments. 
 
When Lifenews.ru, a website with alleged links to the security services, posted embarrassing recordings of Boris Nemtsov's telephone calls, the opposition was quickly able to use the Internet to control the narrative -- changing the subject from Nemtsov's behavior to the illegality of the phone taps. 
 
And when an unflattering photo of anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny with exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky showed up in a Yekaterinburg newspaper last week, it was quickly proven to be a photoshopped fake. Navalny's supporters quickly posted the original photo online -- showing Navalny with billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. They followed up with a series of hilarious photoshopped images of Navalny with space aliens, Josef Stalin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 
 
“Vladimir Putin and his team do not understand the Internet,” Navalny told "The New York Times" after the incident.
 
They also do not appear to understand the new political environment they are living in.
 
-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: Internet,Vladimir Putin

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: La Russophobe from: USA
January 12, 2012 22:09
Putin may not understand the Internet, but it seems Navalny doesn't understand the court system.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/court-throws-out-navalnys-lawsuit/450993.html

Luckily for Putin, the vast majority of Russians have no Internet access and therefore are not influenced by it. Putin's understanding of television, which his government owns lock, stock and barrel, is rather better -- and that is the source from which the vast majority of Russians get their news.
In Response

by: Sergey from: Chicago, USA
January 14, 2012 15:07
"Luckily for Putin, the vast majority of Russians have no Internet Access and therefore are not influenced by it "

And why would Putin have launched the website if the "vast majority of Russians" had no access to internet ? What exactly the "vast majority" is in your calculations ? I thought we've already covered it on one of the previous forums about Internet access rate in Russia. As of June 2010 it was reported at 42.8% of the Russian Population or 59,700,000 users. It's hardly to have come down in the past year and half.

http://www.internetworldstats.com/euro/ru.htm

So can you please check the facts (other than your own) before producing another nonsense.

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York, NY
January 13, 2012 00:44
When I look at this story, I see it basically as this: one power grouping in the Kremlin is using its administrative resources against another.

When you look at who owns the Internet in Russia, you see that it's all in hands of people close to the Kremlin:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dc12822c-f351-11df-a4fa-00144feab49a.html#axzz1jII1ongA

When there are clashes of power groupings, it has long been the case that in the interstices, ordinary people and social movements can gain a foothold. But they can also merely be whiplashed and exploited.

My own take on the "oligarch switcheroo" is that it's about in fact reinforcing the notion that Navalny is close to Prokhorov, an oligarch who will oppose Putin, although he has accommodated him in the past (and that may be the plan, to have him serve as a foil). So then either either or both can be coopted or ditched, as needed. It also sends an underlying message that oligarchs are replaceable or interchangeable, literally, as ordinary people who don't like the rich and feel resentful of them can then apply that hatred to Navalny, too.

http://3dblogger.typepad.com/minding_russia/2012/01/the-oligarch-vanishes.html


by: Anonymous from: USA
January 13, 2012 04:52
“Vladimir Putin and his team do not understand the Internet,” Navalny told "The New York Times"

Let's hope not, otherwise they could censor the Internet like China, or shut it down completely like Myanmar/Burma.

by: Dianannette Wisemartin from: Anaheim CA
January 14, 2012 06:49
to: Mr Vladimir Putin

You are a very intelligent and powerful man I beleve all the critics they say it's from the protest they don't like you run for a president in the election but I know you're strong to past this time.

And remember "The fame and the fortune" it's consecuences of
historics things"

You know as a future president of Russia the important of the global peace depends of your country.

There is only one success to be able to spend your life in your own way. You're dream come true." In Politics Lives and Loves
We always going to win".

"You run with the rest of Politicians try with the best ".

I hope this help in your campaign

Sincerely,


Dianannette Wisemartin









by: Ben
January 14, 2012 13:48
American administration and the liberal media often meddle sencelessly in Russian internal policy: rewaded the unknown Russian women organization instead of famouse "soldiers` mothers",rewarded woman-reporter called "drain tank of FSB",boost the unknown somewhere Navalny instead of opposition leaders.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: USA
January 15, 2012 01:42
@Ben and Diananette
Once more, I did not see the US government mentioned anywhere in this article...just "whataboutism" or Putin worship from the likes of you both. How much does the Kremlin pay you to post this nonsense?
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
January 20, 2012 21:26
How much is the State Department paying you to critique comments? I think we can dispense with the notion that everyone who has an opinion different from yours must be getting paid to do so. Unless your position is that your opinion is the only one worth defending for free. Is it?

If a runoff is forced (which seems to be the goal here, since Boris Nemtsov is a washed-up has-been now that Navalny is in town who likely would not even poll his usual 3% - 4% of the vote idf he were allowed to run, and Nsavalny is not running) the most likely be Genady Zyuganov and his Communists. It's both amazing to me that the foreign-based forces arrayed against Putin seem to be okay with the idea of a Russia once more under communist rule, and touching that people like Mikhail Meshkov believe a Zyuganov government would promptly make Russia "a normal country".

The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

19:16 November 21, 2014

POWER VERTICAL PODCAST: A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

09:14 November 21, 2014
09:11 November 21, 2014

AND AS TENSIONS RISE IN THE BALTICS...

09:09 November 21, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINE MARKS START OF EUROMAIDAN PROTESTS WITH NEW HOLIDAY
By RFE/RL
Ukrainians are marking a new national holiday on November 21 -- the anniversary of the start of Kyiv’s Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of the country’s former pro-Kremlin regime.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed decree on November 13 that declared the holiday for annual “Day of Dignity and Freedom” celebrations.
The protests began with a few hundred people who met spontaneously on a vast square in central Kyiv of November 21, 2013 – disappointed by then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a landmark deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
After that first night, as the protests quickly swelled to tens of thousands of demonstrators, brutal police efforts to disperse the crowds with batons and teargas backfired.
As the crowds got bigger, the protesters began to call for Yanukovych’s ouster – which came in February 2014 after more than 100 people were killed in clashes with police that failed to end the demonstrations.

BIDEN TO MEET UKRAINIAN LEADERS, ANNOUNCE NONLETHAL U.S. AID
By RFE/RL
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was expected to announce an increase in nonlethal U.S. military assistance to Ukraine on November 21 as he meets in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The talks come on the first anniversary of the start of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that toppled Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin regime.
As Biden arrived in Kyiv on the evening of November 20, U.S. officials told reporters that he will announce the delivery of Humvee transport vehicles that are now in the Pentagon’s inventory of excess supplies.
They said Biden also would announce the delivery of previously promised radar units that can detect the location of enemy mortars.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not specify a dollar value for the assistance. 
Russia on November 20 warned the United States not to supply weapons to Ukrainian forces.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the (U.S.) administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine. 
He was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, who told a congressional hearing on November 19 that lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at."
The U.S. State Department's Director of Press Relations Jeffrey Rathke on November 20 told reporters that "our position on lethal aid hasn't changed. Nothing is off the table and we continue to believe there's no military solution."
He added, "But, in light of Russia's actions as the nominee mentioned [on November 19] in his testimony, as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at."
The aid expected to be announced by Biden on November 20 falls short of what the Ukrainian president requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid - a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.
In September, Washington promised Ukraine $53 million in aid for military gear that includes the mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats, and other nonlethal equipment for Ukrainian security forces and border guards in the east.
The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.
(With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and TASS)

RUSSIAN OLYMPIAN CHARGED WITH SPOUSAL ABUSE IN UNITED STATES
Russian Olympian hockey player Slava Voynov – who plays with the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team – has been charged with felony domestic violence against his wife.
Voynov faces one felony count of spouse abuse with a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. If convicted, he also could be deported.
Prosecutors say Voynov “caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, check, and neck” during an argument at their home in October.
Voynov has been suspended from the NHL since his arrest early on October 20 at a California hospital where he took his wife for treatment.
Voynov’s attorney, Craig Renetzky, says his client didn’t hit his wife.
Renetzky blames the charges on a misunderstanding between police and Voynov’s wife, who speaks very little English.
Voynov – who played on Russia’s team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- faces arraignment on December 1.
(Based on reporting by AP and Reuters)

NATO: RUSSIAN ACTIVITY IN BALTICS POSES RISK
NATO says Russia's growing military presence in the skies above the Baltic region is unjustified and poses a risk to civil aviation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Tallinn on November 20 that the aircraft regularly fail to file flight plans or communicate with air controllers and also fly with their transponders off.
Speaking at the Amari air base, he said alliance fighters have intercepted planes more than 100 times in the Baltic region alone so far this year, a threefold increase over 2013. 
He did not say how many of the intercepted aircraft were Russian.
Stoltenberg also said that, overall, NATO aircraft have conducted 400 intercepts to protect the airspace of its European alliance members in 2014 -- an increase of 50 percent over last year.
(Based on reporting by AP and AFP)

 

16:55 November 19, 2014

MORE ON THE SOURCES OF RUSSIAN ANTI-AMERICANISM

Konstantin Eggert has a commentary in "Kommersant" on Russia's anti-Americanism. He opens like this:

"Sometimes I have this feeling that there are only two countries in the world - Russia and the United States. Of course, there is Ukraine, but it either to join us or the Americas. Russian politicians and state television are constantly in search of the 'American hand' in all spheres of our life. In Soviet times, the United States was formally considered to be our number one military and ideological enemy. But even then it didn't occupy such a large space in the minds of the political leadership and citizens. And the paradox is that, on one hand, officials and the media regularly talk about the decline of America as a great power, and on the other declare it to be the source of all evil in the world. This contradiction does not seem to disturb anybody."

And closes like this:

We still have not been able to use the opportunity that we were given with the collapse of the communist regime - to arrange our lives based on liberty and civic virtue. And today, we, as a people, want to go back to the starting point, to beat everyone. And the Soviet Union, with its absence of sausage and freedom, again suddenly seems sweet and dear. But it won't happen. I will put it banally: you can't go into the same river twice.

Read the whole thing here (in Russian, with audio)

15:53 November 19, 2014

UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION WAR

MIchael Weiss, editor-in-chief of The Interpreter magazine, appearing on Hromadske TV to talk about Russia's information war.

Michael and Peter Pomarantsev recently co-authored an excellent report "The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money." Both also appeared recently on The Power Vertical Podcast to discuss the report.

15:42 November 19, 2014

WHY IS PUTIN PICKING A FIGHT WITH THE U.S.?

Oleg Kosyrev has a snarky and clever blog post on the subject up on the Ekho Moskvy website. 

1) The United States is the ideal opponent. "It is big and strong and your self-esteem increases when you fight somebody really influential."

2) The United States is not fighting with Russia. "They aren't really interested. They have enough of their own problems and dreams. It's nice to fight somebody who is not fighting you."

3) It is a substitute for the authorities' inability to benefit Russians. "How convenient. Who is to blame for rising food and gas prices? The U.S.A.. Who is to blame for the fact that Russian has political prisoners? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for people demonstrating on the streets? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for the fact that independent international courts denounce the Russian court system? The U.S.A. You can even blame the U.S. for the fact that the light doesn't work in the entrance to your apartment building."

Read it all (in Russian) here.

15:23 November 19, 2014

UKRAINE SAYS MHI7 SHOT DOWN BY RUSSIAN CREW

14:47 November 19, 2014

AFTERNOON NEWS ROUNDUP: THE SEQUEL

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

KYIV, WEST SAY RUSSIA CANNOT BAR UKRAINE FROM NATO

Ukraine says it will not tolerate pressure from any other country over whether or not it seeks to join NATO.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyynis spoke made the remark to reporters in Kyiv on November 19, after the BBC quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying in an interview that Moscow wants "a 100 percent guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining NATO."

Hitting back with a reference to Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Perebyynis said Kyiv would like guarantees that Moscow will not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs, send in troops, or annex Ukrainian territories. 

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, told journalists on November 19 that any decision on seeking to join NATO could be made only by the Ukrainian people, not by Russia, Europe, ar the United States.

The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, made a similar statement on November 19.

(Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax)

PUTIN TELLS U.S. ENVOY TIES MUST BE BASED ON EQUALITY

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready for cooperation with the United States as long as Washington treats Moscow as an equal, respect its interests, and refrains from interfering in its affairs.

Putin spoke November 19 at a Kremlin ceremony during which he received the credentials of foreign envoys including John Tefft, the new U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.

Putin said, "We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in various fields, based on the principles of respect for each other's interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters." 

The remark echoed a formula Putin set out in a foreign policy decree at the start of his third term in 2012.

Tefft, 64, is a career diplomat who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. 

His posting starts at a time when ties are badly strained over the Ukraine crisis. 

Tefft replaces Michael McFaul, who was ambassador from January 2012 until February 2014. 

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

RUSSIA SAYS 2010 NUCLEAR ARMS PACT STILL IN RUSSIA'S INTERESTS

By RFE/RL

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has signaled that a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States is not in jeopardy despite severe tension over Ukraine.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers on November 19, Lavrov said the 2010 New START treaty "meets our basic strategic interests and, on condition of its observance by the United States, we are interested in its full implementation."

The treaty, one of the main products of President Barack Obama's first-term "reset" of ties with Russia, requires Russia and the United States to have their long-range nuclear arsenals under specific ceilings by 2018.

But Lavrov said the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which President Vladimir Putin suspended in 2007, is "dead" for Moscow. 

NATO has refused to ratify a revised version of the CFE treaty without a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or