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Quick Overview of Russian Blogosphere in 2009-2010

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Russia, Development, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Law, Media & Journalism, Politics, Science, Technology, RuNet Echo

This review was originally written as a part of a presentation on Russian Internet during the recent GV Citizen Media Summit 2010.

Alexey Sidorenko presenting at the Global Voices Summit in Santiago, photo by Gregory Asmolov [1]

Alexey Sidorenko presenting at the Global Voices Summit in Santiago, photo by Gregory Asmolov

Basic facts

Internet penetration in Russia reached 38 % (almost 40 mln. users [2] [RUS]) in 2009. The most popular blogging platform in the country is Livejournal.com, however blogs.mail.ru and liveinternet.ru are also important [3] [RUS] and influential. Internet access prices in Russia vary from city to city (from $10 to $50 for the same service [4] [EN]). The usage of blogs is highly centralized: 50% of Internet users are from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, 67% of top-bloggers are from Moscow [5] [RUS]. Demographics are close to global: the majority of bloggers are from 15 to 30 year old, female users being more present than males.

Main tendencies in 2009-2010

Russian blogosphere’s Wins

In extreme situations bloggers are the first to spread the word, aggregate information, keep the information pressure. The role of blogs and new media was crucial in coverage of Moscow bombings [8] [EN], „Nevsky Express [9]” crash [EN], Perm fire [10] [EN] and other disasters. Sometimes, blog campaigns sometimes lead to real-life changes (“Live barrier” case [11] [EN], saving of the tourist in Indonesia [12] [EN], Oleg Kozlovsky's foreign passport issue [13] [EN] and others). However, the situation is far from ideal – list of Russian blogosphere's failures to provide change is longer than a list of it's wins.

Russian Blogosphere and Society

Government's influence in the blogosphere

Forms of government influence on RuNet are becoming more prevalent. Below are some of them:

Negative forms of involvement:

Positive forms of involvement:

As a conclusion, Russian Internet is becoming more politicised and more regulated place. Together with more trust and number of readers, bloggers gain more attention from the authorities. At the same time, the structure of the blogosphere tends to reproduce the offline social structure with its biases and hierarchy.