Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Even Russians who Back the Kremlin Now Can Use the Internet Because Its Pro-Kremlin Sector is So Large, Makarkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 7 – Many still divide Russians into the TV Party and the Internet Party, with the former being older, more rural and less educated and generally backing Putin and his policies and the latter being younger, more urban, and more opposed to the Kremlin leader, Aleksey Makarkin says.

But this division is no longer appropriate because most Russians now use both the TV and the Internet, with both getting their news from television but turning to very different parts of the Internet for commentaries that support and reinforce their views, the Moscow commentator say (

That has become possible because pro-Kremlin outlets have become so widespread on the Internet that even those who had relied exclusively on television can use Internet sites that echo their views and because anti-Kremlin people still find they need television not only for breaking news but for entertainment and shopping, Makarkin continues.

As a result, for Russians today, “information on the Internet complements TV information but does not fundamentally affect the assessments of events, he says, a situation that eliminates any “hard line between ‘the parties’ of TV and the Internet that many still believe exist.

But there is a real division, one that resembles the situation in Soviet times, Makarkin points out. It is between the 70 percent of Russians who don’t read publications regardless of media which feature journalists the regime has denounced and the 27 percent who read precisely those publications, listening to foreign radio stations and reading samizdat.

“In Soviet times,” the Moscow analyst concludes, “the state jammed foreign ‘voices,’” but today, it does so “by blocking Internet resources. But modern analogues of ‘the voices’ have far greater opportunities to reach their audience as technological process has not stood still.” Hence the ban on promoting VPN services.

That is the Kremlin’s approach to the new 27 percent. As far as the 70 percent of loyalists is concerned, the Putin regime has expanded its presence on the Internet thus making it possible for its supporters to use the Internet without becoming disloyal but rather to gain even more support for their positions.

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