Monday, 9 July 2012

NORTHERN VOICES: The Russian Connection

Ksenia Sobchak; the Katy Price of Russian politics?

AFTER the UK and the USA, the most visits to the Northern Voices Blog come from Russia, followed by France.  In the last month, there were 522 visits from Russia on the NV Blog.  Perhaps this is not surprising given that an estimated 66 million Russians use the Web everyday - the largest such national population on the European continent, and said to be one of the fastest growing in the world.  It seems that the Russians have adopted the Web not just as a public sphere for debate or as a reference point, but also as a refuge of last resort, a kind of citizens' judgement court to vent their annoyance against dodgy officialdom.

Andrew Meier, reporting for the Herald Tribune from Moscow, writes:  'The digital frontier has updated the 19th century fight in Russian literature, the struggle between fathers and sons.'  Mr. Meier claims:  'Now the old guard, the first post-World War II generation to come to power in Russia, is squaring off against "the Generation of the Naughts," those who came of age in the first decade of the century.'  In Moscow and on the Web, this generation call themselves the 'Kreativity Klass' ( the creative class) and apparently stud their speech with English.

Anton Nossik, one of Russia's leading bloggers and pioneer of the country's digital news sites tips former socialite and the now up-and-coming journalist on the internet, Ksenia Sobchak, as a serious media threat to the regime of Putin.  Mr. Nossik warns against underestimating Ms Sobchak saying:  'The risks are real and what she's doing, it may end up being more important than the work of any other oppositioner - Putin has the powers of the Kremlin behind him but she's got something he does not:  the fans.'

Having Ksenia Sobchak in the political opposition in Russia is a bit like having Katy Price in the anti-cuts campaign in England.


bammy said...

Last Monday in Moscow, three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot pleaded not guilty to changes of hooliganism and religious hatred in a case reflecting a Kremlin crackdown of freedom of expression and opposition to the Putin regime. Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, aged from 22 to 29, admitted to putting on an impromptu rock concert in Moscow's Christ The Saviour Cathedral, last February. The song's lyrics lambasted President Putin with heavy-profanity was also admitted. But they said the concert, lasting two minutes, had been a political statement, not anti-religious, and that a potential sentence of up to seven years in jail was over-the-top.

bammy said...

On Tuesday, Russian investigators charged blogger & anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny with embezzlement, which carries a sentence of 10 years. This represents a raft of charges against members of the new Russian protest movement. For 12 years, President Putin has mostly refrained from carrying out criminal prosecutions against activist leaders, being content to sideline them and to limit their access to the media, but now it seems that hasher measures are at hand if these new cases are fully processed.