Der Spiegel has an article today profiling two important players in the Russian blogosphere – Rustem Adagamov (Drugoi) and Robert Schlegel of the Nashi, and how they are squaring off in the struggle over web censorship. It seems hard to imagine that Russia would go as far as, say, Thailand, as it would quickly become quite unprofitable for the likes of Mamut and Milner if the Russian internet offered nothing beyond Kremlin pronouncements. Nevertheless, it’s still amazing that this conversation is even happening at the same time as the “grand modernization narrative” and aims to emulate Silicon Valley.
“Russia’s bloggers are simply the most serious,” says Brad Fitzpatrick, the American founder of LiveJournal, an online service that allows people to set up their own blogs. And there’s no doubt that bloggers in Russia are more influential than they are anywhere else.
This degree of influence was one of the factors that led Adagamov –whose online moniker is “Drugoi,” or “the Other” — to give up hiscomfortable life in Norway as the creative director of an advertisingagency five years ago and move to Moscow. Still, it remains to be seenwhether he will be able to work as freely here as he was able to in thepast.
“President Medvedev isn’t a bad guy,” Adagamov says, “and Iappreciate his openness.” But he remains skeptical as to whether thepresident will ultimately succeed in pushing through his ideas about theInternet. As Adagamov sees it, “the Internet is the last free territory– but it won’t stay that way for long.”