The participants in the discussion included bloggers, people involved in internet projects, online media and movements, and a number of public figures.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: First of all, I am very pleased to see you all and hope that we will be able to have a good discussion today.
We are meeting during the election campaign period, and this is a very particular time of course. I am therefore all the more pleased to see here people who take an interest in politics, have their own views, are not shy of discussing all different subjects, do not reject outright, right from the start, all ideas that the authorities may voice (we see often enough this attitude that says that the authorities will never propose anything good), and make proposals of their own. And so I want to thank you for your support.
It is very good to have this chance to meet with you here offline. Many of you I know online, but have never seen you in the real world yet. So, although I know some of you by face already, I ask you please to introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about yourselves before speaking.
There is no need for me to tell you about the Internet and what it is, for you know better than anyone. I just want to say a few words about one aspect that I think really is very important. The Internet helps everyone, including politicians, to be modern people able to influence the situation and get access to information that has not been touched up or transformed into reports and digests prepared in accordance with particular people’s preferences, or even the various special reports that the law enforcement and intelligence services provide.
”The Internet helps everyone, including politicians, to be modern people able to influence the situation and get access to information. The Internet is useful to me as the president and useful to a huge number of other people in that it gives access to unfiltered information.“
These information sources always act as filters, always reflect some particular view or position, and I can speak from experience as someone who has been working in government and administration a long time already, and as president now. The Internet, on the other hand, is useful to me as the president and useful to a huge number of other people in that it gives access to unfiltered information. Sometimes this is not a pleasant experience, sometimes it is a very interesting experience, but whatever the case, this aspect of the Internet stands out very clearly.
The authorities should in general seek supporters in the Internet community in order to make government modern and relevant. Without such supporters a gap is likely to grow between the authorities and a large part of the population. This is something we must avoid. I try in this sense to set an example. It is up to you, rather than me, to judge how successful I am in this. Perhaps you could give me some advice. But in any event, this subject is of interest to me not just now, but will remain relevant to me in the future too, and so I will be staying online.
What’s more, I think that in order to give the right example and simply make life more interesting, I will continue to expand my online presence. I will make my words act right away in fact by opening here and now my official page in [social networking site] VKontakte, if you don’t mind. Let me write “Hi, I’m here now in VKontakte”. Now I’ll send that. There, it’s gone through. It’s all up and working.
I want to discuss with you any matters you consider of interest, political, economic, humanitarian affairs, and purely Internet-related issues too, anything you wish.
The last thing I want to mention, something I think very important, is that any politician or active person needs feedback, and the Internet provides just this opportunity for feedback between these individuals and the public. I recently put forward the idea of ‘expanded government’ or ‘open government’, and I invite all of you here to take part in the work of these kinds of public organisations in what measure you can. I do not know exactly what results will come out of all this, but I think it is an interesting undertaking, and your contribution will be valued whatever the case.
I will stop here. Let’s talk about not just the Internet but about any issues you wish to discuss with me today. I hope you will not let me get bored.