President Plugs IT, Democracy

ReutersMedvedev looking at a laptop computer Thursday in a Petrozavodsk court.
PETROZAVODSK — Modern communications technology should become a gateway to democracy in Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday, ordering his ministers to improve online public access to the government.

"Free access to information for our citizens is one of the key benchmarks of the democratic process," Medvedev told a State Council meeting in the Karelian city of Petrozavodsk.

Medvedev said the inability of ordinary people to gain access to the government or receive official information was a big problem. "[Solving this problem] would naturally contribute to fighting corruption," Medvedev said.

Computer illiteracy is widespread among Russian citizens and officials, said Medvedev, who has shown interest in communications technology.

"An official who does not have elementary computer skills cannot work effectively. That means he has to look for another job," Medvedev said. "Learn or leave!"