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8 Oct, 2009 18:00

President Medvedev pledges to keep on blogging despite criticism

It's a year since President Dmitry Medvedev became the first world leader to go online with his own blog. He's marked the anniversary by saying comments posted there help him solve the country's most pressing problems.

Dmitry Medvedev: "It has been a year since I started my video blog, in the spring it became part of LiveJournal.

It’s a significant period of time, so it would be good to summarize some things.

Of course, for me it is a necessary litmus test of communication. A litmus test that helps me receive important information, in order to understand the attitudes of different people, understand the logic behind their behavior – these people participate in the blog, discuss all kinds of issues.

In the spring, I think, somebody wrote an interesting thing, while suggesting a topic for discussion – “There are more of us here than deputies in the State Duma”. I can’t argue with that, there are a lot more of us: we only have 450 members in the Parliament, whereas the number of active blog users is more than 20,000 today (11,000 in LiveJournal and 10,000 in the blog on the official website). For me it is simply flattering, first of all. And the majority of them are people who have their own opinion on things, but at the same time they hear what others think and reasonably argue with it. They have a ton of very interesting ideas.

And those who take part in the discussions don’t just complain about problems, but they offer different solutions to these problems, which is very valuable. And these solutions can be very creative.
According to the experts (the data is taken from the Yandex search engine), there were 7.4 million Russian language blogs this spring – twice as many as one year ago. I agree that Russian blogs are not only dynamic and contemporary, but their have a special nature, a specific Russian “aroma” so to speak.
I see a special significance in the fact that in my blogs people actively discuss issues of our every day life. They don’t just talk about some higher matters, but about organizing our every day life – in particular how to make our lives more modern and fair.

I will give you some specific examples, from the computer.

At the end of August, the Children’s Hospital for Infectious Diseases re-opened after a renovation in the Ryazan region (the hospital is in the village of Dashki). When I was on my way to Ryazan, I saw this message about the terrible state of the hospital, along with photographs in my blog (I guess they posted it, knowing that I was going to Ryazan). I pointed the situation out to the governor. And now we see the results.

Of course we cannot renovate all hospitals this way. And in reality this letter about the poor state of a hospital ward should not be addressed to the President’s administration or to me personally, but to the governor’s blog. But at the same time I am grateful to the author of this post – as a result we were able to do a good thing – maybe not huge, but a very important one – and I also hope that we have set an example, a good clear example for all local authorities. Make sure you draw the attention of the authorities to what is going on in the regions, if they don’t know about the situations, or if they simply fail to act. As we know, secret things are sooner or later revealed. And thanks to the Internet, it usually happens sooner rather than later.

Thanks to reports from the blog visitors, many underground, illegal casinos have been checked and closed. If you have forgotten, I will remind you – not all casinos have been closed after the law regulating this business, signed by me, came into force. In some places these casinos just changed the sign, but basically continued their gambling business. This was done in Barnaul, Smolensk, Ryazan and some other places. Following the reports, the casinos were dealt with. In any case, I think the situation is much better now. If you have other information on the topic, write to us.

Proper order is being brought to the notorious website www.zakupki.gov.ru. It was the forum participants on my blog who drew my attention to the inappropriate way of naming the purchase items when some Cyrillic letters had been changed to their respective Latin letters, which made it virtually impossible to search the offers. The technology was tricky, but we sorted it out.

As I see it, in October the website software will be fully updated. Following my direct instruction, the Government dealt with the task. If however the government contractor publishes a notification with an inappropriate label, this information will be automatically forwarded to the Federal Anti-monopoly Service for it to launch an extra-schedule anti-monopoly inspection.

Many topics are being discussed not only emotionally (although emotions are a natural thing), but also in a constructive way, which makes me particularly happy. I know that some proposals expressed in the blogs are subject to scrutiny by the government and agencies. So, this particular instance of mine has proved a success, like proposals on using maternal capital and determining the amount of allowances for children, as well as on rehabilitation of the disabled and improving the pension legislation. There are also proposals related to supporting small business – something we have been dealing with – to supporting students and various charity initiatives.

I can see questions about ordinary citizens – problems are often raised when a particular person gets into a difficult situation, or even serious trouble. And I can see that people, no matter how different they may be, get united so as to help and achieve justice. And it’s done quickly. Perhaps it’s a reality all and those in power in particular, should take into account.

There’ve been nearly 110,000 comments in my blog already – a whole summary of opinions, proposals and ideas of the citizens of our country, so big and various. Now and then it’s emotions and, sometimes, real human pain. It’s true that not all the contributors appear really competent in the issues they raise, but this is not the most important thing. What really matters is they do contribute and offer their ideas aimed at solving problems. The approaches may also differ very much. However, what unites all those who post their messages is that they are not indifferent and try to raise their awareness about the problems and offer their ways of solving them. This very fact deserves tremendous respect. It is exactly indifference that dominates these days. But we are  responsible for our country.

I would like to particularly thank all of you who contribute to the blog discussions and assure you that our systemic work with the blog will continue, even though some colleagues believe it’s not the president’s business. At the same time, most of the state power agencies are doing the same, without any particular instructions from my Administration. They have obviously grown accustomed to that, which is good. Various-level officials, including those in the regions and, hopefully, in the municipalities, have been gradually getting aware that they should know the problems of our citizens – it is something the officials simply are bound to know. And what is important, they should get this information not a week or two after it’s posted, but immediately – following the posts in the blogs.

It’s not just a way of solving particular problems (although that’s not bad either) but eventually a guarantee for improving the state management as a whole as it gets closer to the citizens’ needs.
I would like to conclude this video with something pleasant, and it’s always a pleasure to conclude something with congratulations.

Fifteen years ago the RU internet domain space was opened for Russia. Earlier, in 1990, the SU (Soviet Union) domain had appeared. As of today, our RU domain is in demand by more than 40 million users.

Also this year, LiveJournal is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and seven million out of its 25-million community is in Russia, which is a very significant indicator. We can hardly fancy how LJ will evolve during its second decade. It is clear though that the Internet has been quickly transformed into one information vehicle that uncovers great opportunities for all of us already now, and will create more of them in future."