Kirill Pankratov (neznaika_nalune) wrote,
Kirill Pankratov

Russian bloggers debate Putin's annual presser

Довольно длинный текст - с обзором русского ЖЖ (на тему путинской встречи с прессой - уже давно)
Упоминаются Варшавчик, Кашин, Кариша, Эля Билевская, Соколов, Гельман, Третьяков, Кононенко, Литвинович, и даже Моська (Я. Греков) (ну и некоторые другие у них в комментах):

BBC Monitoring
February 22, 2007
Russian bloggers debate Putin's annual presser

The transfer of power to Russia's next president and the way in which the Kremlin handles that process featured among the main issues discussed by some of Russia's leading political bloggers as they reflected on the annual Kremlin news conference hosted by the incumbent, Vladimir Putin, on 1 February. Bloggers also disputed whether such large-scale media events served any genuine purpose and dwelt on the nature of civil society. There was even an attempt to ascertain Putin's principal character traits by analysing his handwriting.

Consolidating power

Sergey Varshavchik, a journalist working for the upmarket Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, sparked an exchange about the prospects for next year's presidential election campaign on his blog. He posted a transcript of Putin's promise to wait until the campaign was under way before disclosing who he would like to see as his replacement.

Visitors to Varshavchik's blog reacted by quoting remarks from the news conference that they had found either risible or irritating. One post from quoted a female journalist from Vladivostok addressing Putin as "Incomparable Vladimir Vladimirovich". Another post from asked whether public servants such as Putin were allowed to "use their official position" for election campaigning. "Smells a little bit of extremism," the blogger added. A post from expressed amusement at Putin's call for power to be "consolidated" following the next parliamentary and presidential elections: "In our region power is so well consolidated around [the pro-Putin party] One Russia that there's nowhere else to go." "That's nothing new," replied Varshavchik. "That's what they liked to repeat in the politburo after the latest funeral of the latest general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union."

"Operation Successor"

Maksim Sokolov, a columnist for the Gazprom-owned daily Izvestiya, typically kick-started debate on his blog at by posting the introductions to some of his recent newspaper articles.

In one article, published in the 6 February edition of Izvestiya, Sokolov suggested that some political analysts were spending too much time obsessing over the precise nature of the succession process, what he and other members of the press have taken to describing as "Operation Successor". He predicted that the Kremlin would not experience too much trouble in arranging the presidential succession to best meet its own interests, adding that he had no objection to the idea of the process being carefully managed in order to ensure stability.

One of Sokolov's readers,, said it was understandable that the succession process attracted so much attention and so many interpretations: "This happens because clever analysts make "a distinction between what a person thinks and says about himself and what he is and what he does in real life (Karl Marx). And they're right to make this distinction. You wouldn't be much of a spy if you said exactly what you were going to do." But another reader,, disagreed strongly, arguing that Putin could no longer practise the subterfuge associated with his former profession: "You're assuming that a certain V.V. Putin is a spy, rather than the president of the Russian Federation. Why don't you go to the court in The Hague and ask them to annul all his signatures against all international and internal state documents, and to annul all his public speeches?"


Marat Gelman, a political analyst and owner of one of Moscow's best-known modern art galleries, found the news conference tedious and argued that the format should be reviewed. "My main objection to Putin's news conference is the complete predictability of his answers," he posted on his blog at "Using common sense, my assistant could have conducted it exactly the same way. And maybe that's because of this gigantomania - more than 1,000 journalists. Each journalist wants to ask the main question, but the answer to the main question is banal by definition. Interesting answers could materialize if, after hearing a non-committal answer, the journalist could seek clarification, in other words ask for a second and a third version of that answer. So, 'OK, that's what I expected to hear, but even so...'."

Gelman also made fun of the idea that the news conference was a showcase for Putin's resilience and endurance. "Chavez's news conference lasted five hours (during which time he answered just six questions). So the propaganda men will now have to measure Putin's record-setting (three-and-a-half hours) in terms of the number of answers rather than the duration."

"More than just a news conference"

Oleg Kashin, a journalist who writes for the business weekly Ekspert and has shifted his support towards the Kremlin in recent months, initially had little of substance to say about the news conference on his blog at He contented himself with highlighting Putin's gently flirtatious exchange with a young female journalist from Murmansk, who followed her question about Gazprom with an invitation to Putin to visit her home town.

However, Kashin was more expansive in a posting on a blog maintained by the journalist in question, Elina Bilevskaya, a correspondent for the Nasha Versiya na Murmane newspaper. He remarked that the Kremlin event was "more than just a news conference", and offered two examples to back up his case. In the first, he recalled the experience of an ex-colleague who had put a question to Putin at the same event five years ago and had then been appointed editor-in-chief of another newspaper shortly afterwards after being spotted on television by the governor of her region. He also pointed out, in defence of the Kremlin's decision to hold such news conferences, that an acquaintance had started attending them in order to confirm for herself that they were nothing more than heavily stage-managed PR exercises. "It's interesting," noted Kashin. "How many times will she have to go to the Kremlin in order to convince herself that not everything is actually engineered?"

On his own blog Kashin also posted the text of an article he wrote for the Tvoy Den tabloid.

Here again he defended the way in which the news conferences are run. He rejected the comments of Moskovskiye Novosti editor and veteran journalist Vitaliy Tretyakov, who said that the event would have been far more useful if attended by "30-40 professionals" rather than "a crowd of enthusiastic and trivial admirers". "It's clear that he numbers himself among those 30 or 40 political analysts," Kashin said. "But if he has such a high opinion of himself, why doesn't he get in touch with the presidential press-service? If they share his view, then they will probably help him get a real interview from the president. But I rather doubt that it will be more interesting than a three-hour conversation with several hundred journalists from all corners of the globe."

"Access to the president"

Maksim Kononenko, one of Russia's best-known political bloggers in his guise as Mr Parker, had little to say about Putin's news conference. However, on his blog at he pointed out that in both 2006 and in 2007 he had encouraged Bilevskaya to apply for accreditation to Putin's annual news conference despite her suspicions that she would not be admitted. On both occasions, not only was she admitted but she was also given the opportunity to put a question to Putin. That, Kononenko said, was his response to concerns about "freedom of speech and access to the president".

Civil society

Putin's remarks about the need to develop civil society in Russia were queried by Anastasiya Karimova, at 18 one of Russia's youngest political bloggers and a journalism student at Moscow State University. "I don't understand how you can 'develop civil society', and especially how the authorities can 'develop' it," she said on her blog at "The only thing and perhaps the best thing that the authorities can do in this area is to give civil society the chance to develop of its own accord."

One of Karimova's readers challenged her suggestion that the state apparatus should let civil society be. Karimova countered: "The state shouldn't be adopting these idiotic laws on NGOs, for a start. It shouldn't assign the functions of civil society to the Public Chamber. It shouldn't discredit the concepts. Structures created from above by definition cannot belong to civil society. It's civil society that should be controlling the state, not the other way round."

"Absence of clear principles"

Another well-known blogger, Yaroslav Grekov, invited readers of his blog at to comment on Putin's handwriting, based on publicly available photographs of the notepad he is said to have used during the news conference. One reader said: "I can definitely say this person is stubborn and forceful by nature but at the same time attentive and thoughtful to others (I've just read an article on handwriting especially for this). Did I get it right?" Another reader offered a more detailed analysis: "1) the appearance of the lower-case 't' and 'f' suggests an IQ of 80-100; 2) the appearance of the lower-case 'r' indicates toughness and perhaps cruelty, based on a genuine decisiveness 3) the appearance of the lower-case 'ts' indicates a lack of attention to detail; 4) the overall appearance of this handwriting reveals substantial flexibility and the absence of clear principles."

Deep Purple

There was no direct comment on the news conference from Marina Litvinovich, a journalist and activist who once worked for pro-Kremlin outlets but is now an aide to Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion and now a fierce critic of the Kremlin as leader of the United Civil Front. However, the day after the news conference she reminded visitors to her blog at of her irreverent view of the authorities, posting a hyperlink to a manipulated image of the Kremlin elite reincarnated as the legendary British rock group Deep Purple. The still featured President Putin, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev, then Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov and deputy heads of presidential administration Vladislav Surkov and Igor Sechin. Asked on 31 January about rumoured differences of opinion between himself and Medvedev, Surkov had answered that both of them liked Deep Purple but simply favoured different songs.

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