Modernizing Russia: Twitter and Mozilla to the rescue

US technology experts are on a visit to Russia to discuss how the Internet and information technologies can further the country’s modernization goals.

The delegation includes leading businessmen and officials, like Mozilla Foundation Chairman Mitchell Baker, eBay President John Donahue and Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer in the Obama administration.

During the visit, which starts on Thursday, they are to travel Moscow and Novosibirsk, where they will meet Russian officials and IT business leaders. The American experts will be familiarized with the project “Electronic Russia,” a major initiative to improve communication and governance in the country.

They will also share their experience and give ideas on how free dissemination of information can help combat corruption and facilitate the life of civil society.

A somewhat bizarre addition to the group of tech whizzes is Hollywood star and celebrity Ashton Kutcher. He is the most-followed user of the micro-blogging service Twitter and also a big advocate of social networking, which he has praised for making activism stronger than ever:

“That is the power of the social web. You don’t have to be a celebrity or sit on a podium to have a community that you can build around an idea of thought of a piece of leadership,” Kutcher said.

He added: “I hope what you write is that we find partnerships in building solutions through technology. And I hope that you can write and that I can write that I’ve found a great partner in the initiative to end human trafficking in the citizens and the technologists of the Russian community.”

Analyst Sergey Utkin told RT how the Internet situation correlates with the US-Russia relationship at the moment.

“It’s important to have this topic on US-Russian agenda, because if we have only missiles and strategic issues on the program, it doesn’t produce a healthy atmosphere. They will stay here for about a week, and I hope they will find much more interesting things in Russia.”

The first day’s schedule, however, was disrupted by Moscow’s notoriously heavy traffic. Jams prevented the American delegation from meeting with Russian businessmen from leading IT companies Yandex, Kaspersky Lab, ABBYY and others.

Watch the full interview with Sergey Utkin

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