Staunton, Mar. 14 – One of the most intriguing developments in the reordering of the Russian media space since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine has been the appearance on VKontakte of a page for residents of a single town in Karelia to discuss on their own what this war means for them and how they should react.
How this remarkable development came to be and what it may mean for the Russian Federation as a whole is the subject of a new article on the 7x7 portal (7x7-journal.ru/articles/2022/03/14/my-na-maloj-rodine-ne-odni-kak-rabotayut-regionalnye-pabliki-o-specoperacii-na-primere-karelskoj-gruppy).
In March 2017, Karelian activist Anna Boykova created a page on VKontakte for the 8,000 residents of the town of Pitkyaranta. Since then, more 4700 of them have signed on to it (123ru.net/pitkyaranta/314857909/) to discuss issues of local interest including the fate of hospitals and schools, the need for improvements in roads, and so on.
When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, Boykova recognized that such issues had receded to second place in the minds of her fellow citizens and she decided to create a new page where they could talk about the war, how it is affecting them, and how they should react, a page needed because “many ordinary people don’t read federal liberal” pages of this kind.
She tells 7x7 that “perhaps our example could be useful for other regions.” It is important that people in Pitkyaranta do not feel alone and that recognizing their links with each other and with those elsewhere with whom they agree, they begin to work out ways to act to promote what they believe.
According to Boykova, such pages have to be moderated with care in order that they do not degenerate into shouting matches and that she has done in these two cases; and she suggests that they can play a critical role in helping people to feel not only a sense of community but a sense of efficacy that they aren’t getting from any other source.