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Power of New Media: Russian Protesters Embarrass Medvedev on Facebook


(AFP) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s attempt to placate the masses who rallied against a disputed poll backfired on his own Facebook page Monday when it became flooded with irate comments.

More than 10,000 people posted replies, many of them insulting, after Medvedev wrote on Facebook that while he disagreed with protesters’ slogans, he was still ready to run a check on whether the vote was marred by fraud.

“Dmitry Anatolyevich, I voted for you in the last elections. Give me back my vote, I’ve changed my mind,” wrote Vitaly Maiorov.

“Coward, coward and once again coward!” wrote Sergei Slaikovsky.

Many pointed out sarcastically that the rally slogans Medvedev said he rejected included “For fair elections.”

“The Russian president doesn’t agree that elections should be fair? That’s sad,” wrote Mikhail Noskov.

The president chose Facebook to give his first reaction to the demonstrations in an apparent bid to win over the Internet-savvy protesters, who used the social networking site to coordinate their actions.

But the vast number of negative comments highlighted the scale of opposition to the December 4 polls and public fury at the authorities’ dismissive approach to reports of massive electoral fraud.

Medvedev, 46, has flaunted his familiarity with social media and appears to be genuinely enthused by new technology, often appearing in public with his iPhone.

He posted his first Facebook message in October and also writes on Twitter and records a video blog, in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, 59, who once dismissed the Internet as “50 percent porn.”

But this was not the first time Medvedev’s flirtation with social media has ended in embarrassment.

Last week, one of his support staff entered his Twitter account and retweeted an obscene message from a ruling party deputy that insulted the protest leader Alexei Navalny and his followers.

The message was hurriedly removed and the Kremlin went so far as to issue a statement saying the guilty party would be punished.


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