Medvedev Puts Spotlight on Blogger

Ria-Novosti / APMedvedev shaking hands with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin at the start of a meeting on Wednesday.

President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday urged the government to study a blogger’s ideas for speeding the development of the country’s innovative economy, even though the LiveJournal post was heavily critical of state policy.

“I won’t conceal the fact that I have already received thousands of similar ideas,” Medvedev said during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin. “I’ve turned my attention to one of them, because all of Yandex is buzzing about it. A certain citizen by the name of Maxim Kalashnikov addressed citizen Medvedev.”

The comments are in keeping with Medvedev’s brand of populism, using technology to open lines of communication with the people.

In January, he opened his video blog on the Kremlin web site up for comments. He has used the blog to discuss state policy, most notably launching a withering attack on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in early August.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin redesigned its web site and opened a YouTube channel.

Kalashnikov’s post, an open letter to “Citizen D. Medvedev,” paints a dire picture of the country’s situation.

“It has long been obvious to intelligent people that the country is headed toward a systemic catastrophe, and only a breakthrough innovational path of development can save it,” he wrote, using the handle M_Kalashnikov.

Among other things, he called for the president to form an “innovation council” to better control the pace of development in the sector and to put reform in the hands of scientists and innovators rather than “idiot bureaucrats.”

Kalashnikov also urged the president to create a prototypical “city of the future” filled with the latest technological innovations on the site of agrarian communes abandoned in the 1920s.

Medvedev seemed to have an open mind towards Kalashnikov’s comments.

“He writes all kinds of unflattering things concerning the authorities and doesn’t shy from giving his opinion,” but the matter at hand demands that we stand above unpleasantness, Medvedev said.