MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - President Dmitry Medvedev’s embrace of Twitter has spawned a new twist in Russia’s rich tradition of political humor: a mock account lampooning the tech-savvy leader and his uphill battle to modernize the nation.
Just days after Medvedev sent his first microblog from Twitter’s offices in California last month, an account called KermlinRussia appeared — and swiftly drew almost 1,500 followers.
By Monday it featured 130 tweets, most of them reacting to entries from Medvedev’s KremlinRussia page.
Although mock accounts like these are common in the West, Russian media outlets are subject to state pressure and street protests are often broken up by police. That leaves the Internet as one of the few viable outlets for free expression and government criticism.
Medvedev’s June visit to San Francisco and Silicon Valley was part of a campaign to promote innovation in Russia’s economy and reduce its reliance on energy exports.
Several of the mock account’s entries predicted, playfully but pointedly, that the Kremlin’s modernization efforts are doomed by Russian bureaucracy and corruption.
“One needs to understand that money given to modernization and innovation will be spent on corruption and swindling,” one tweet said.
Another suggested a high-tech hub Russia plans to build near Moscow to nurture innovation would be a haven for the more traditional businesses of gambling and prostitution.
A few tweets took aim at Medvedev himself, including one critical reference to the daily ritual of stopping traffic to let the president’s convoy hurtle through the city.
The Kremlin shrugged off the affront.
A Kremlin representative, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Medvedev’s administration does not plan to take action to eliminate the account.
“I think sober people are able to distinguish between the real account and an (imposter),” the representative said.
“The official account is easy to distinguish by the ‘verified account’ check mark,” the representative said.
Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; writing by Steve Gutterman