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Ukraine: Politics on Twitter

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Ukraine, Digital Activism, Elections, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Politics, Technology

Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko [1] has an official Twitter account now: there's a Twitter link [2] on the righthand sidebar of his official website [3] (UKR) (the Russian [4]- and English [5]-language pages haven't been updated yet, however). The president's tweets (UKR) mirror daily schedule announcements and latest news items that are featured on the official website as well.

Twitter user roxolanus [6] wrote this [7] about the launch of Yushchenko's Twitter “office”:

man, twitter's exploding in Ukraine after today's announcement that our President joined it @President_UA [8]

And this [9], somewhat later:

well, times change quickly, guys, if even Ukrainian politicians turn to social media as a tool and announce it on the news

In between these two tweets, Kotusenko posted this comment [10] about the president's social networking skills:

wondering why @President_UA does not want to subscribe to anybody in twitter. Nothing like what Obama did

At that time, 276 people were subscribed to the presidential Twitter, but the president was not following anyone yet. Now, a day or so later, however, Yushchenko's got 325 followers and is following 281 people.

Another prominent Ukrainian politician who seems to be on Twitter is former parliament speaker and former foreign minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk [11]: even though a press service representative of Yatsenyuk's political movement [12] has refused to confirm the authenticity of yatsenyuk [13] Twitter account, this user has 714 followers right now, is subscribed to 662 people him/herself, and is also soliciting ideas [14] (UKR) from people familiar with social networking sites, among other things.

The first tweet [15] (UKR) of Twitter user yatsenyuk, posted on Jan. 12, 2009, reads:

I'm beginning to prepare for the elections

Ukraine's next presidential elections [16] is expected to be held on Jan. 17, 2010. The snap parliamentary vote [17] was first scheduled for Dec. 7, 2008, then re-scheduled for Dec. 14, and finally postponed to an unspecified date in 2009.

Following the launch of Yushchenko's Twitter account, Twitter user yatsenyuk wrote [18] (UKR):

People who surround Victor Andriyovych [Yushchenko] do not understand the meaning of internet technologies correctly

Earlier this month, Yatsenyuk wrote [19] (UKR) about the cancellation of his account:

Someone did a cruel prank on me. Account was suspended. So we had to prove to the support service that I am [actually] who I am. […]

There is, indeed, a number of Ukrainian political impersonators on Twitter, all of them very recent arrivals, whose first tweets were posted either today, or yesterday: yanukovich [20] (former prime minister Victor Yanukovych [21]), chernovetskiy [22] (Kyiv mayor Leonid Chernovestsky [23]), lytvyn [24] (parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn [25]), BYuT [26] (The Bloc [27] of Yulia Tymoshenko [28]), Ushenko [29] (president Victor Yushchenko), Viktor_Baloga [30] (head of Presidential Secretariat Victor Baloha).

Here is how Twitter user ruda_ganna [31] reacted [32] (UKR) to the launch of Yulia Tymoshenko's (fake) Twitter account yesterday:

[…] They're fighting for the electorate!!! […] Perhaps it'll make sense to create a virtual politician of my own, too?