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Moscow Times
October 8, 2008
Medvedev Rides Video Into the Blogosphere
By Francesca Mereu / Staff Writer

President Dmitry Medvedev has never been shy about showing off his Internet savvy, having spoken publicly about social networking sites and offering words of support for Russian web slang.

Now the president will be regularly addressing citizens in a new "video blog" section launched Tuesday on the Kremlin's web site.

"I'm using this means of communication for the first time," a serious Medvedev, apparently sitting at his Kremlin desk, told viewers in Tuesday's inaugural video. "I wanted to speak about some pressing problems the world is facing today."

In the two-minute clip, Medvedev, flanked by two large monitors, called for joint action on the global financial crisis and said he would push for support of a new European security treaty at an international conference Wednesday in Evian, France.

The events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Georgia and elsewhere have demonstrated that the present security system is "extremely ineffective," Medvedev explained, calling for discussion of a new security system stretching from "Vancouver to Vladivostok."

"It is absolutely clear that the time has come for new solutions," Medvedev said.

Medvedev, who portrays himself as an avid Internet user, plans to use the new video section to regularly address citizens, a Kremlin spokesman said Tuesday, referring to the planned videos as "podcasts."

"We believe that the use of the Internet is an important, innovative and interesting way of communicating, and this is why we are doing our best to make podcasts a regular thing," the spokesman said.

It was unclear how regularly Medvedev's videos will be posted given his tight schedule, the spokesman said. "A video of a few minutes requires a lot of preparation," he said.

While the section is described as a video blog, at least one key blog feature was absent as of Tuesday: viewer comments.

Web surfers were not allowed to post comments for the first video, but the section does foresee that feature, the spokesman said. "We think that there should be some feedback," he said.

Medvedev has often said he likes to begin his day by surfing his favorite web sites, though the Kremlin spokesman declined to say exactly what the president's favorite sites are. He said only that Medvedev "keeps himself informed" using the Internet.

Medvedev has also spoken about Odnoklassniki, one of Russia's leading social networking sites, as a Russian version of Facebook. It is unclear whether he actually has his own Odnoklassniki page. Addressing the Russian Internet Forum in April, Medvedev said he found 630 Dmitry Medvedevs registered on the site.

As of Tuesday, there were six Dmitry Medvedevs on Odnoklassniki using the president's picture on their pages, and 23 others identifying themselves as the Russian president, albeit without pictures.

Medvedev has also called for Russia to be assigned an Internet domain name in Cyrillic script and has even said he was conversant in Olbanian, a popular RuNet slang that distorts standard Russian words for comic effect.

Asked during an online call-in conference in March 2007 whether Olbanian should be studied in schools, Medvedev said, "One cannot ignore the necessity of learning the Olbanian language."

The number of Russians using the Internet to get information has doubled in the past three years, according to a VTsIOM poll released last week. Only 10 percent of the population said they used the Internet as a source of information in 2005, and now the figure stands at 20 percent, according to the poll.

Conducted among 1,600 respondents nationwide Sept. 20-21, the poll has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.