News / Europe

Moscow Protests Get Legs with Social Media

Japhet Weeks

A Moscow march to protest election fraud unexpectedly drew tens of thousands of people on Saturday. With 40 percent of Russian adults online, many say social media, including the Russian social networking site VKontakte, has made it possible for a long stalled opposition movement in Russia to organize a rally that size.

Last Saturday Danila Lindele stood in downtown Moscow tweeting about the revolution.

Dressed in a sweater his mother knit him, the 23-year-old is a new breed of Russian activist more likely to reach for an iPad than a bullhorn. "When it comes to the rally today, Internet has played an extremely vital role in making it happen because nothing was broadcast on television. Everything is disseminated through Twitter, Facebook and through our VK site," he said.

After recent parliamentary elections, YouTube was flooded with videos alleging vote rigging by the country's ruling United Russia party.

Russia's state-run media on the other hand was conspicuously silent.

Protesters like 22-year-old student and first-time election observer Denis Kandrotenko are keenly aware of the information divide between television and the Internet. "I know the real amount of votes United Russia received during the elections. It received very few votes. And because of that the people, rose up and came out today. They want fair and honest elections, not what they show us on TV," he said.

According to a report by Russian search giant Yandex, Russia has over one million Twitter users. A five-fold increase over last year.

And nearly 40,000 people signed up to attend Saturday's rally on Facebook, despite efforts by state-run television to brand such gatherings as dangerous and the protesters themselves as violent rabble rousers.

Masha Lipman, an analyst at Carnegie Center Moscow, admits the Internet is an important tool, but says it was election fraud, not micro-blogging, that galvanized people. “As soon as the mood was one of action, not just sitting there and grumbling, the Internet came in very handy and indeed played a huge role ... in actually planning and organizing the rally that brought together an unprecedented number of people," she said.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Moscow on Saturday, the largest number to rally since the fall of the Soviet Union nearly two decades ago. Organizers were keenly aware they couldn't have done it without the Internet.

“I want to say a big hello to Twitter and Facebook. Hoorah Internet! Today they [points at Kremlin] can't control us thanks to social networking sites and us," said writer Sergei Shargunov.

Still, Carnegie's Masha Lipman said, "There were revolutions before the age of Internet and even before radio and television. We had a powerful showing of public sentiments and public activism back 20 years ago, late 80s. ... our rallies were 10 times bigger than what we had in Russia on Saturday."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More