is one of the people within the Russian political system who fascinate me. I think that most of the time he just makes stuff up, and I don’t have a ton of respect for him. But he is considered an “expert” and an “insider”, so what he says does need to be taken into consideration. Here is a recent interview with Stanislav on Medvedev’s Gazeta article, and the response it got from the blogosphere. Specifically, Maxim Kalashnikov’s suggestions. The translation is rather horrid, and I cannot find the interview in Russian, but I have picked out a few things that I thought were important (editing is my own).
[Then], the president is just trying to win the sympathy of the people?
I can recall that shortly after [his] election to the presidency, Vladimir Putin met with the chief editor of “Tomorrow” by Alexander Prokhanov and chief editor of the newspaper “Soviet Russia” Valentin Chikin in the Kremlin. Although these meetings were completely devoid of content, …that was enough to make for several years to nourish hopes on Putin. The same effect, only in miniature, and achieved through dialogue with Maxim Kalashnikov.
Apparently, there was some question of why Medvedev gave the letter to Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin rather than his own Chief of Staff, Sergei Naryshkin. According to Belkovsky,
…do not overestimate the seriousness of this request. All this is, to some extent, [a] postmodern game, which is inherent in the political elite. Formally, Medvedev could do so because: firstly, the proposal Kalashnikov is [the] competence of the Government, not the Presidential Administration, and secondly, …Sergei Sobyanin… is Deputy Chairman of the Council for the Modernization of the President. Therefore, Medvedev had all the formal and bureaucratic reasons to refer these proposals to him. And the competition with Putin or neglect [of] Naryshkin in this case simply does not [play into it].
The final question is, naturally, about what will happen in 2012.
…I think that is a bit early to make predictions, [and] the connection with the election campaign would be far-fetched. While it is clear that the president with a term of office of four years must live permanently in the mode of election campaign. While it is clear that the election results in 2012 will depend not on the success of communication Medvedev with bloggers, [but] on the success of the state automated system of election administration, which does not let you down.
Belkovsky’s answer is a bit of a cop-out, I think, but he does make a good point here (that I, of course, agree with). Medvedev’s blogging will have little to no impact on the election. Just look at the numbers. If 2/3 of Russia’s population lives in rural areas, only 1/3 (approximately) have access to the internet (and that is a liberal estimate). Of those 1/3, how many actually use the internet? Maybe half? And of that 1/2 of 1/3, how many are interested enough to take the time to watch the President’s blogs, and read what he writes on-line? Half of that? Plus, people just do not believe that they have enough power to effect change.