Just before the weekend, the Kremlin announced it’s in the market for innovative ideas. It will pay a contractor 5 million rubles (just over $150,000) to scour the Russian blogosphere for original solutions to the country’s myriad problems, according to a Kremlin insider.
In a country without elections or elected representatives, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has often used the interwebs to imitate the forms of democratic discourse. He has started a blog, a vlog, hired a fleet of bloggers to seed Russian blogs with “correct” comments, and, most recently, shone the spotlight on the proposals of a “futurologist” blogger.
This time, the government wants someone to build it a program that will trawl the Russian web, monitor it for ideas and trends, and “further the Kremlin’s interests” online. That is, the Kremlin wants a virtual PR agency. Because, in Russia, if you want to change something, you just have to change the optics.