Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08MOSCOW2412
2008-08-14 15:27:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

YOUTH-DOMINATED RUSSIAN BLOGOSPHERE CRITICAL OF

Tags:  PGOV PREL RS 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2412/01 2271527
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141527Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9495
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002412 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RS
SUBJECT: YOUTH-DOMINATED RUSSIAN BLOGOSPHERE CRITICAL OF
U.S., GEORGIA

REF: MOSCOW 02364

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Alice Wells
for reason 1.4 (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002412

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RS
SUBJECT: YOUTH-DOMINATED RUSSIAN BLOGOSPHERE CRITICAL OF
U.S., GEORGIA

REF: MOSCOW 02364

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Alice Wells
for reason 1.4 (d)


1. (SBU) Summary. Since the onset of violence in South
Ossetia, Russian bloggers have utilized internet sites to
blaspheme the U.S. and Georgia, organize opposition events,
and call for extreme measures. Dominated by Russia's youth,
these online fora remain decidedly pro-Russia with little
sympathy for Georgian citizens. On the other hand, bloggers
who provided links to nationalist pages called for repressive
measures against Georgian citizens in Russia. The
pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi further fanned rumors of U.S.
military involvement in the fighting. Polling data echoed
the support for South Ossetia on Russian blogs, showing that
71% sympathized with the plight of the separatist region's
residents. End Summary.


Blogosphere Remains Anti-American, Anti-Georgian
-------------- ---


2. (SBU) While information directly from South Ossetia
remained sparse, Russian bloggers continued to hammer
President Bush and the USG for support of the "Georgian
Hitler," Mikhail Saakashvili. The majority of commenters
either expressed pride in Russia's ability to protect its
citizens, chastised the barbaric actions of the GOG, or
blamed the USG for its military, financial, and political
support of the GOG (reftel). One Russian blogger on
www.LiveJournal.ru, Russia's most heavily frequented site,
praised the Russian mission in South Ossetia as "a new step
in the development of the country, similar to the falling of
the Berlin Wall, turning the country around 180 degrees. We
now live in a new country." Another blogger proclaimed South
Ossetia and Abkhazia to be "finally lost" and "de facto parts
of the Russian Federation." A third blogger called the new
ceasefire agreement "the beginning of the end for
Saakashvili."


3. (SBU) Although most blog entries focused on Russian
accomplishments in the conflict, a few bloggers expressed
displeasure with Russia's role in Georgia. A contributor to
Live Journal that Russia had no political interest in the
Caucasus, only a championship battle between private and
corporate interests, especially the political clans in
Moscow, Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, and local "tsars" in the

Caucasus. One writer likened the exchange between Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov and western leaders to a couple of
kids fighting over who is "the biggest idiot" for starting
the conflict.


Nationalist Groups Press for Action, Not Deportation
-------------- --------------


4. (SBU) Some bloggers posted links to statements of the
ultra-nationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI)
leader Aleksandr Belov, who argued for the "internalizing" --
that is, depriving movement beyond Russia's borders,
preferably into refugee camps -- of Georgian citizens in
Moscow. Belov preferred "internalizing" as opposed to
deportation since any deported Georgian could be drafted into
the military to fight and kill Russian soldiers. Belov noted
that the elderly and incapable could be deported, but
breaking up families was "inhumane" and, therefore, should
only be done according to family preferences. In a separate
statement, Belov appealed to internet readers for the
nationalization of property in South Ossetia and the
cessation of any economic support for the United States,
including financial investments. People's Union nationalist
leader Sergei Baburin also backed the GOR's actions, pushing
Medvedev for the establishment of independent diplomatic
relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.


Youth Movements Lead Street Propaganda
--------------


5. (SBU) Kremlin-backed youth movement Nashi reportedly
arranged a monitoring group that arrived in South Ossetia on
August 10. Subsequently, the group published unconfirmed
reports, along with gruesome pictures, on its website of the
charred body of a "black-skinned" mercenary found in
Tshkinvali, South Ossetia. While not explicitly stating
such, the commentary made reference to U.S. military support
of the GOG army during the conflict. Additionally, bloggers
linked to Nashi reports of Georgian military attacks on OSCE
peacekeepers with diplomatic immunity. The group promised to
report its findings of Georgian military crimes to the
investigative committee of the Russian procuracy. Numerous
blog entries also discussed the candlelight memorial service
held at 00:15 on August 14 at Christ the Savior Church in
Moscow, dedicated to the 2,000 lives lost in South Ossetia.
Members from the youth movements Nashi, Molodaya Gvardia, and
Young Russia organized the vigil and minute of silence. An
accompanying message on Nashi's website noted that vigil
attendants organized blood donations in the upcoming days.


Polling Data on South Ossetia
--------------


6. (SBU) A few blog entries made reference to recent polling
data public opinion on the conflict. Levada Center poll
results from August 12 indicated that 71% of all Russian
surveyed sympathized with the South Ossetians while only 2%
sympathized with the Georgians. Additionally, 46% of those
surveyed felt South Ossetia should become a part of Russia,
34% felt it should become an independent state, and only 4%
felt it should remain a part of Georgia. Russians also
supported sending political, economic, and humanitarian
support to South Ossetia (81%),sending its military to the
region (53%),and sending volunteer troops to South Ossetia
(57%).


Internet Use: Young, Educated Urbanites
--------------


7. (C) Polling information suggested that most bloggers in
Russia are educated urbanites under 24 years old. Levada
Center Director Lev Gudkov told PolOff on August 6 that
internet use has grown six times since 2000 in Russia, and
its oversight presented challenges and opportunities for the
current leadership. Levada Center polling data from July 17
indicated that almost one-third of all Russians utilize the
internet, yet only 27% of those used it to read news articles
or discuss politics. In fact, at every age group surveyed,
newspapers remained the most influential news source for
political issues (63% overall). While internet proficiency
and interest depended on numerous factors including finances,
education, gender, and physical location, the main factor was
age, according to Levada. 69% of all Russians surveyed
between 18 and 24 years old use the internet as opposed to 5%
of all persons over 55 years of age. Secondly, educated
Russians utilized the internet three times more often than
those without a higher education, and urban residents twice
as often as those in the countryside. Interestingly, the
majority of Russians supported free access to all information
on the internet (57%) versus some level of censorship (26%).


Comment
--------------


8. (C) Russian public opinion on blogs remains decidedly
anti-American and critical of the Saakashvili regime, and few
opinions on the internet showed signs of greater public
dissent. Youth leaders and nationalist movements have seized
the opportunity to push their platforms and tout their own
credentials, while opposition parties remain relatively mute.
As the majority of blog entries likely come from young,
educated people in the more cosmopolitan Moscow and Saint
Petersburg regions, sentiments in these urban areas remained
staunchly pro-Russian.
RUBIN