Facebook – the final frontier – the ultimate battleground


Stanislav Govorukhin, new top knight in Putin's campaign (mikhail_golubev) Stanislav Govorukhin, new top knight in Putin’s campaign. Nataliya Bashlikova, Kommersant, 12-9-11

The Russian election story has legs; it may not, in the long run, be anything like the Arab Spring.  but at this point, it is much like the Occupy movement, very wide-spread, without any clear leadership, but with a potentiality to bring major political change.  It may be a long time before either the Russian protests or the Occupy movement can be properly evaluated.

The Russian press, liberal and state are taking the movement seriously.  In fact, the Moscow Times is reporting that the state-run media is being almost objective and non-editorial in its coverage; according to the Times, in the past the state media would not have covered such events at all.  Everyone it seems has an opinion, even the Russian Orthodox Church has weighted in on the issue. The Church is asking for more transparency in all elections and offering to act as a conduit for official information on the the voting procedure; the Church would review the information and release it to the public; interesting offer, but thus far no response from anyone in the Russian government.

Much to the surprise of observers and regular Russian television viewers, state-run channels gave substantial coverage to Saturday’s anti-government rallies in Moscow and other cities — even if they still managed to present the protests as insignificant, apolitical events. All three top channels included coverage about the rallies in their evening reports and highlighted them on their Sunday analytical news shows, but their tone varied substantially from that of foreign media. The coverage stood in stark contrast to how earlier manifestations of public rancor were handled. The mass protest at Chistiye Prudy the day after the contested State Duma elections — resulting in hundreds of arrests, including those of journalists — was widely ignored by the top television channels. Moscow Times, 12-12-11

Of course Putin is at the center of all of the coverage, but he has been decidedly absent from the public view.  In fact, he was so absent in China that when the Confucius Peace Prize was awarded the organizers had to draft three pretty, young, female Russian students to accept in Vladimir Putin’s place.  The organizers admitted to having awarded the prize to Putin because China needed him to confront the west. The Confucius Peace Prize was established as an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize after its committee shocked and angered China by awarding last year’s prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.

While Vladimir was not in China, or talking to the media in Russia, he was not idle.  Putin hired a campaign director for the upcoming presidential elections in March.  His choice is a film maker and former member of the Duma; increasingly the election is being seen as much more challenging that anyone would have thought a couple of months ago.

The decision was welcomed by United Russia members. “Stanislav Govorukhin is our colleague, our comrade and one of the most experienced deputies in the Duma,” said United Russia representative Sergei Zhelznyak. “He is one of the most respected public figures in modern Russia. In that sense, Putin’s choice is completely logical. It is addressed to the largest number of people possible, designed to bring together everyone who cares about the fate of Russia.” “Apparently, Putin is planning to put on a show that is going to need a director. But Putin is a very talented person, he has already put on a show, complete with special effects, called “Tandem,” said the leader of the Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, referring to the job-swapping with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. “But maybe now he is hoping to fill the house. So he is going to need Govorukhin.” Nataliya Bashlikova, Kommersant, 12-9-11

Today, Mr. Putin acquired a new opponent, the owner of the New Jersey Nets and the third richest man in Russia, Mikhail Prokhorov.  According to the media sources, and every major source in the west is covering the story, Prokhorov has done his best to say below the radar screen of Putin and United Russia.  He has to get some 2 million signatures to get his name on the ballot, but with an estimated $18 billion in his bank account he probably can afford to buy a few votes.  On the other hand if he is unsuccessful, he might not be able to afford fighting Putin.  He would not be the first Russian billionaire to end up in prison; they have been sentenced for illegal activities and the all claim they were sent to jail for their politics.  But there will be other candidates opposing Putin, so maybe it is a safe time to run for president of Russia.

Challenged Vladimir Putin may be, but few observers are willing to count him out.  Putin has not built his career on accidents or coincidence, he is a very masterful politician as he has proven time and time again. The botched parliamentary election undoubtedly caused him some serious problems and indicated an eroding popularity for the flamboyant leader.  However, dead he is not – the Christian Science Monitor is implying that Putin may be willing to sacrifice President Medvedev and United Russia to keep his hold on Mother Russia.

But it doesn’t necessarily spell the end for Putin, who has distanced himself from the fraud-tainted United Russia party and could yet take imaginative steps to reinvent his political appeal, says Ms. Lipman. “The Kremlin still has all the resources. Putin’s life will no longer be easy, he’s lost his political monopoly, but he’s far from finished,” she says. “Yes, Putin is weakened, but who exactly has been empowered? That’s not at all clear.” Christian Science Monitor, 12-12-11

For the moment, the sacrificial lamb is still the face of the government and the person who is trying to officially  explain the current events. President Dmitry Medvedev, by example, may be offering the strongest signs of a change in the times.  Medvedev has promised to investigate the election; he says the demonstrations clearly demonstrate that democracy in Russia is alive and well, although he does disagree with some of the statements of the protestors.  But that is not the most significant role Medvedev is playing, Dmitry is showing himself to be a man of his times.  He is making his most important statements, not at a press conference, or in a government statement released to the media, no Dimtry is saying what he has to say on Facebook.

It makes me wonder just how long it will be before elections are held on Facebook?  Candidates all over the world have a Facebook page, and most use social media to raise money and organize campaigns (just as the revolutionaries and demonstrators  are doing), but why limit Facebook to one side of the issue – why not let Facebook be the final battle ground?  Clearly, Facebook is the final frontier, a place we will all go to conduct our affairs (pun intended), it is the logical place for all future elections.  Won’t Facebook be obligatory for everyone in the future? “May I see your Facebook identification please?”

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Facebook – the final frontier – the ultimate battleground”


  1. 1 rex stock December 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Facebook would love the advertising dollars, and the Supreme Court Citizens United decision would keep those dollars coming in fast-and-hard. Would we be mandated to participate by hitting the “like” button? Given a chance to opt-in? Oh look: that kitty has a hat on its head… That’s not Farmville!

  2. 2 Ken Adams December 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I picture Facebook as the ultimate central government; we would all be required to have a membership – with an electronic GPS device surgically implanted and a hard copy ID card to show to Facebook enforcers, the uniformed guys patrolling the streets and such – the penalty for non-compliance would be incarceration for the first time offenders, repeat refusers would of course be beheaded like the witch in Saudi Arabia a couple of days ago.


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