Sunday, October 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".

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17:49 October 24, 2014

EVENING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

PUTIN ACCUSES UNITED STATES OF 'UNILATERAL DIKTAT'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of escalating conflicts around the world by imposing what he called a "unilateral diktat."

Putin made the remarks in a combative speech to political experts at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin said the United States has been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He said risks of serious conflicts involving major countries have risen, as well as risks of arms treaties being violated.

He also dismissed international sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "mistake," saying they aimed at pushing Russia into isolation and would end up "hurting everyone."

We did not start this," he added, referring to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, TASS)

MERKEL URGES PUTIN TO SOLVE UKRAINIAN GAS DISPUTE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call to push for a quick resolution of the ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

The call by Merkel to Putin on October 24 comes as representatives of the EU, Russia, and Ukraine are due to meet again next week in EU brokered talks aimed at solving the gas dispute between Kyiv and Moscow.

Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect Ukrainian national law.

Pro-Russian insurgent leaders are boycotting a parliamentary snap poll on October 26 in Ukraine and are holding their own election in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, home to nearly three million people, on the same day instead.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)

UNHCR SAYS MORE THAN 800,000 DISPLACED IN UKRAINE CONFLICT

By RFE/RL

The United Nations says the conflict in Ukraine has forced more than 800,000 people from their homes.

Around 95 percent of displaced people come from eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told a briefing in Geneva that an estimated 430,000 people were currently displaced within Ukraine -- 170,000 more than at the start of September.

It said at least 387,000 other people have asked for refugee status, temporary asylum, or other forms of residency permits in Russia.

Another 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union and 581 in Belarus.

The agency said it was "racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people" as winter approaches.

It also said the number of displaced people is expected to rise further due to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.

THREE ALLEGED MILITANTS KILLED IN NORTH CAUCASUS

Three alleged militants have been killed by security forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says that two suspects were killed in the village of Charoda in Daghestan on October 24 after they refused to leave an apartment and opened fire at police and security troops.

One police officer was wounded.

Also on October 24, police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria, killed a suspected militant after he refused to identify himself, threw a grenade towards police, and opened fire with a pistol.

A police officer was wounded in that incident.

Violence is common in Russia's North Caucasus region, which includes the restive republics of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Chechnya.

Islamic militants and criminal groups routinely target Russian military personnel and local officials.

(Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS)

MOSCOW LAWYER IN HIGH PROFILE ORGANIZED CRIME CASE KILLED

A lawyer, who represented an alleged victim of the notorious Orekhovo criminal group in Moscow, has been assassinated.

Police in the Russian capital say that Vitaly Moiseyev and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near Moscow on October 24.

Moiseyev was representing Sergei Zhurba, an alleged victim of the Orekhovo gang and a key witness in a case against one of the gang's leaders Dmitry Belkin.

Belkin was sentenced to life in prison on October 23 for multiple murders and extortion.

Last month, another of Zhurba's lawyers, Tatyana Akimtseva (eds: a woman), was shot dead by unknown individuals.

The Orekhovo group was one of the most powerful crime gangs of the Moscow region and in Russia in the 1990s. Its members are believed to be responsible for dozens of murders.

(Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax)

17:27 October 24, 2014

LITTLE GREES VOTERS, ANYONE?

17:26 October 24, 2014

SPY VS. SPY

17:00 October 24, 2014
08:29 October 24, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINIAN PM WARNS OF RUSSIAN DESTABILIZATION OF ELECTIONS

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)

RUSSIA DENIES ESTONIAN AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS

By RFE/RL

Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)

RUSSIAN COURT POSTPONES RULING ON OIL FIRM BASHNEFT

A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014

THERE IS NO RUSSIA WITHOUT PUTIN?

According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

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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