Digital Democracy in Authoritarian Russia: Opportunity for Participation, or Site of Kremlin Control?

Digital Democracy in Authoritarian Russia: Opportunity for Participation, or Site of Kremlin Control?

Rachel Baarda (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2463-2.ch005
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Abstract

Digital media is expected to promote political participation in government. Around the world, from the United States to Europe, governments have been implementing e-government (use of of the Internet to make bureaucracy more efficient) and promising e-democracy (increased political participation by citizens). Does digital media enable citizens to participate more easily in government, or can authoritarian governments interfere with citizens' ability to speak freely and obtain information? This study of digital media in Russia will show that while digital media can be used by Russian citizens to gain information and express opinions, Kremlin ownership of print media, along with censorship laws and Internet surveillance, can stifle the growth of digital democracy. Though digital media appears to hold promise for increasing citizen participation, this study will show that greater consideration needs to be given to the power of authoritarian governments to suppress civic discourse on the Internet.
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Russia And E-Democracy

Russia has made announcements that suggest it is prioritizing e-democracy. In 2012, then-President Medvedev said he planned to introduce e-democracy, including crowdsourcing and referenda, to the Russian regions. He told the people, “The country needs you—active and not indifferent people and I seriously count on you” (Internet Censorship, 2012).

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