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Russia: Bloggers React to President Medvedev's Silicon Valley Tour

The first Tweet by President Medvedev (and the first typo).

The visit of the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Silicon Valley [ENG] in California drew a lot of media attention. The main goal of the visit was to study the U.S. experience and to attract American investments for the creation of the “Russian Silicon Valley” – Skolkovo [ENG]. One of the major achievements [ENG] of the visit was a $1 billion contract with Cisco. One of the major scandals [ENG] was the Russian president's failure to meet with one of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, who was born in Moscow and is known for his skeptical attitude towards the Russian authorities.

Russian bloggers, however, focused primarily on these two issues. First, during his visit to Twitter [ENG], Medvedev signed up for a Twitter account of his own. A little later, he became [ENG] the first Russian citizen to own a new iPhone 4 (despite the fact that he probably won't be able to use it due to security reasons).

Actually, for the Russian bloggers and Twitter users, the preparation for the visit started even before Medevedev wrote his first tweet. LJ user Lenaswan suggested [RUS]:

А что, господа, в связи с вот этим сообщением – Медведев собирается побывать в нескольких компаниях, базирующихся в долине – Твиттер, Эппл, Яндекс…. – не завести ли нам в Твиттере hashtag #askMedvedev – и не позадавать ли неудобные вопросы.

[Friends], since there is a report that Medvedev is going to visit a few Valley-based companies – Twitter, Apple, Yandex… - shouldn't we perhaps create a Twitter hashtag #askMedvedev – and ask some inconvenient questions?

One of the questions was this [ENG]:

Once the Twitter account was created on June 23, it became the major discussion topic in the Russian blogosphere. Medvedev also started an English version of his Twitter, KremlinRussia_E, where the posts, unlike the Russian version, are written without typos.

The first Tweet by President Medveev (English account)

The first tweet was welcomed by the @White House and re-tweeted by @BarackObama. Years ago, the Soviet and American leaders had a special “red phone” to communicate with each other. Nowadays, they're using [ENG] Twitter for a dialogue:

During his press conference with President Medvedev, the U.S. president indeed joked [ENG] that Twitter could replace the “red phone.” Some Russian Internet users, however, expressed their concern regarding the Twitter friendship between the Russian and the U.S. #1 Twitterers. User Airatfaizov wrote [RUS]:

@kremlinrussia's first “follow” is @barackobama… It sounds so ambiguous: Kremlin Russia follows Barack Obama…

At the same time, some of the users were concerned [RUS] about the security of the Twitter platform after the Russian president's visit.

They shouldn't have let him [president Medvedev] into the Twitter bunker. He might have brought some kind of a nano-virus with him.

Tina Kandelaki, a popular Russian TV host, member of the government's civil society council, and a very active Twitter user, was very excited [RUS] about the news from California:

Медведев – один из немногих президентов, по которому видно, что он получает удовольствие от жизни и этого не скрывает. Если он будет продолжать выкладывать такие фотографии, как после регистрации в Twitter, у российской власти появится реальный шанс стать властью, которой гордятся люди. Правильно сказали, что количество followers и то, с какой скоростью росло их число, – очевидное подтверждение рейтинга президента. Если он будет таким же активным, как в начале, появление “новой” России станет очевидным не только нам, но и Западу.

Medvedev is one of the few presidents who is not hiding how much he enjoys life. If he continues to share photos similar to those that followed his Twitter registration, the Russian government will have a real chance to become a government that the people are proud of. Someone was right to point out that the number of followers and the speed with which their numbers grew presented an undeniable confirmation of the president's popularity. If he continues to be as active as at the beginning, the emergence of a “new” Russia will become obvious not only to us, but also to the West.

Alexander Plushev, a well-known Internet expert and a radio anchor from Echo Moskvywas a little more skeptical [RUS] about the value of Medvedev's visit to Silicon Valley:

Вообще, поездка Медведева в Калифорнию выглядит крайне забавно: «Вау, я со Шварцем! I’ll Be back!», «Я в Твиттере!», «Вид на Сан-Франциско», «В Америке найдется все! Даже Яндекс!», «Я гуляю с Джобсом!», «Мне подарили новый айфончик!». Воплощение сбычи мальчишеских мечт, не иначе. Как с привозом Deep Purple. Путин все на всякой технике да на лошадках катается, а Дмитрий Анатольевич больше по гаджетам. Если что, я без осуждения, сам люблю поездить, гаджеты, подарки и все такое. Мне просто казалось, что для этого вовсе необязательно становиться президентом.

Actually, Medvedev's trip to California looks extremely funny: “Wow, I am with Shwartz! I'll be back!”, “I'm on Twitter!”, “A view of San Fransisco,” “You can find everything in America! Even Yandex!”, “I am taking a walk with Jobs!”, “I've got a present – a little new iPhone!”. It looks like a child's dreams come true. The way it was when Deep Purple were brought to Russia. Putin likes to drive [military vehicles] and ride horses, while Dmitry Anatolievich [Medvedev] is more into gadgets. I don't blame him, you know, I also like to drive, and I like gadgets, presents, etc. I just feel that it's totally not necessary to become a president for all this.

LJ user Piligrim-67 was more optimistic and suggested [RUS] that there is something positive in the new Twitter account of the Russian president:

И  самое главное – пока  наш  презик играется с девайсами он не делает гадостей для страны. Потому я лично от души желаю, чтобы Медведев как можно больше времени проводил в Твиттере. Глядишь и страна сможет дожить до конца его президентского срока.

The main thing is that when our president plays with gadgets, he isn't causing trouble for our country. That's why I personally wish that Medvedev spend as much time as possible on Twitter. Then perhaps the country will manage to survive until the end of his presidential term.

LJ user Kmartynov argued [RUS] that the new Twitter account raises some interesting new dilemmas in regard to Medvedev's second term:

Медведев завел себе аккаунт в твиттере с названием KremlinRussia. У меня есть один вопрос в этой связи: предполагается, что аккаунт будет впоследствии переходить по наследству к другим обитателям Кремля, или же Медведев думает побаловаться немного и завязать, или же он думает сидеть в Кремле вечно?

Medvedev has opened a Twitter account titled KremlinRussia. I have one question in this regard: should we assume that other Kremlin inhabitants will subsequently inherit the account, or that Medvedev will play with it a bit and then quit, or that he is planning to sit in the Kremlin forever?

Many users were excited about the fact that the first tweets looked like something that indeed had been written by the Russian president. He even posted a photo with a view from the window of his hotel suite in San Francisco. This excitement, however, didn't last long. @Kursenko wrote [RUS]:

Judging by the latest tweets, @kremlinrussia has had enough of playing with it. Or he just doesn't have time for it. Now there are only re-posts from his press service.

Twitter user berillii even wrote [RUS] a special appeal to the president's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova:

@KremlinRussia Natalya Aleksandrovna, please create a separate Twitter for non-personal official [crap]! RT

Some Russian bloggers view the launch of @KremlinRussia as a new opportunity to reach the Russian president. Alexey Navalny, a well-known anti-corruption blogger, wrote [RUS] a post that exposed corruption that led to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and suggested to use the new platform to approach Medvedev:

Вроде Медведев твиттер завел? Давайте и ему накидаем ссылочек. А то ведь забудет, высокотехнологичный наш, что пока он в айфон 4.0. играет, в его стране менты воруют миллиардами и людей в тюрьмах пытают.

It looks like Medvedev has opened a Twitter account. Let's send him some links. Otherwise, our hi-tech leader might forget, while he's playing with iPhone 4.0, that in his country the police steal billions and people are being tortured in jails.

Navalny's post inspired LenaSwan to ask another question:

Perhaps, the most amazing fact about the new Twitter account was that for the first time in the RuNet history, Internet users could leave comments on the official account of the Russian president without any moderation. Up until now, the blog on the official website kremlin.ru, as well as the presidential LJ community, were moderated according to some very strict rules. Max1976 wrote [RUS]:

В твиттере премодерации-то нету:) Комментаторы уже жгут.

There is no pre-moderation in Twitter :) The commentators are already having fun.

The comments were left not on the account itself, but after the three pictures that were posted by the Russian president at Twitpic. Marina Litvinovich, re-posted [RUS] a photo taken by Medvedev from his San Francisco hotel room and wrote:

Народ в комментах спрашивает, когда и у нас так будет? Никто, кстати, не пишет ему, чтобы не возвращался ;)

People in the comments are asking when it's going to be like this [in Russia]. But no one is writing him not to come back, by the way.

Russian bloggers rushed to leave their comments on the president's Twitpic account. Some of them had strong oppositional messages:

@alburov: Putin has to resign!

@l_i_b_e_r_t_a_d: Dmitry Anatolievich, get Putin to resign!

@elvinaz1: Set Khodorkovsky free and you will gain respect all over the world.

Some users used the opportunity to welcome the Russian president with a classical RuNet meme:

@bryhada_ua: Preved, Medved )))

Other users had more instrumental questions:

@sarafan96: What camera did you use, @KremlinRussia?

The third picture on Twitter raised a special interest – it showed Medvedev together with the legendary founder of Apple, Steve Jobs:

@Shurik_Coyotoff: Why aren't they selling iPhone for US prices in Russia?
@ButakovRus_SPb: We can be proud of such a president. He understands all these electronic gadgets. He is so modern!
@xvitaliy: Love your people, not your iPhone.

Some Russian users demanded specific results following the meeting with Jobs:

@RachkovMikhail: Dmitry Anatolievich, please, when you meet Jobs, ask him to take care of the Apple prices in Russia )

@one_dpi: Anatolich!!! Go for it! Crush them so that they didn't raise prices for the Motherland. You are one of the people, aren't you (=

However, the reactions included not only messages from the opposition or wish lists, but also some compliments:

@NikitaOdintsov: Bravo, it is the FIRST person and president in the ENTIRE Russian history who knows what a computer is, and not just a computer, but a Mac!

The presidential Twitter account has attracted many spammers, trolls and those who promote inappropriate content. For instance, the Russian 4chan community started to post links to its forums. The comments started to be a joke. One of the bloggers posted [RUS] a screenshot with spam and “Thank you for the comments” by Russian president on the same page. Some of the comments also called to restore order, if not in the country, but at least on the new Twitter account:

@reclamat: Well, I guess one should start from cleaning away those who leave spam even here.

Indeed, the appeal of @reclamat was probably the only one that was almost immediately satisfied. On June 24, in the afternoon, while Medvedev was eating hamburgers [ENG] with president Obama, all the comments suddenly disappeared. Any attempt to leave a new comment failed. The era of the Russian unmoderated online democracy lasted less than 24 hours.

P. S. On the same day, the Russian president got a Twitter ‘twin brother’ – a Twitter account named almost exactly as the president's and whose author has made [RUS] the same typo as Medvedev did in his first tweet:

I opened Twitter. It's also my6 first message. Nishukov Vladimir.

So maybe those who can no longer leave comments on @KremlinRussia should communicate with @RussiaKremlin instead. He looks like a nice guy.

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