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Russian Tsar Reigns Again

Ninety years after the tsar and his family were shot dead by the Bolsheviks, Nicholas II has returned to reclaim his authority ... as the leader of The Name of Russia contest. When last visited by "Transmission," Rossia television's online contest was being dominated by none other than Josef Stalin, the ruthless Soviet dictator with Georgian roots.

But on the anniversary of the imperial family's demise, a virtual flash mob rose up to push Nicholas II ahead of Stalin and the tsar's mortal enemy, Lenin, in the poll.

The reversal came following an appeal posted by the contest's producer on the social-networking website for Russians to commemorate the tsar's murder by voting for him. The effort launched Nicholas II into the lead and his position was secured, at least for the day.

The whole affair led Boris Dubin, a sociologist with Russia's Levada polling center, to tell RFE/RL's Russian Service that "this is the kind of process that on the one hand resembles a democratic election and on the other, one of those television game shows that Russian love -- run a relay race, win a prize, that kind of thing."

Stalin's two-week stay at the top of the poll has also been attributed to mass voting by staunch followers who discovered they could vote multiple times for their hero. Meaning there is still a chance for the "Black Spider," also known as Lev Yashin, the greatest soccer goalkeeper of all time.

-- Michael Scollon

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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