Will political advertising on VKontakte strengthen or damage Russian democracy?

Will political advertising on VKontakte strengthen or damage Russian democracy?

7 June 2017

On the face of it, social media might seem to be a great leveller in terms of democracy and debate — after all, anyone can post. For this reason many rejoiced when popular Russian social network VKontakte announced it had opened its advertising space for political candidates in the run-up to Russia’s presidential election. Here’s the catch: this option is open to just a select few.

Often dubbed the Russian Facebook, VKontakte has changed its rules to allow “campaign materials”. Things are not that simple, however. The list of mandatory documents for advertising campaign materials includes “The Russian Federation Central Election Commission’s decision on registering a candidate” — a severe blow to opposition candidates who are not registered with the Central Election Commission.

In particular, political analysts have raised fears that the new rules will put prominent unregistered opposition candidate Alexei Navalny at a disadvantage, in addition to smaller unregistered parties.

Source: The Moscow Times