In the wake of the presidential election, the opposition has developed a new means of self-defense: a small tech-savvy corps able to launch rapid-fire counterattacks, posting evidence to YouTube, Twitter and an ever-growing array of popular Russian Web sites. No one has deployed the digital arsenal to greater effect than Sobchak. As her political critique intensified, she made a series of mock campaign ads — parodies of the Kremlin campaign that enlisted artists and actors to support Putin. One faux ad featured Sobchak speaking haltingly, like a hostage at gunpoint, to praise this candidate who’s done so much for Russia — without mentioning Putin by name. On YouTube, the video was seen more than two million times. An estimated 66 million Russians use the Web every day — the largest such national population on the European continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world. Russians have adopted the Web not only as a public sphere for debate but also as a refuge of last resort, a citizens’ court to vent anger at and post evidence of official malfeasance. Videos depicting supposed police abuse, state theft and even car accidents go viral in minutes.
The revolution will be transmedia.