The Russian Government announced the launch of a new version of its official Internet mission. It did not fail to report that this new version corresponds with “the most up-to-date demands.”
It is instersting that the government, while occupying itself with the web-site, did not follow the purposes of Electronic Russia State Program. It, for unknown reasons, “took into account the decisions the Russian Government” passed according to the results of Moscow State Forum of November 2001. It is not fully clear why this reason was mentioned; however, on the other hand, the answer was given in the press-release itself: as one of the contractors, the Gleb Pavlovsky Fund of Effective Policy, is mentioned. Of course, we should not show interest in internal intrigues connected with the program. At least, there is a different question. The question is that, while entering the main page of the site, one can see the confusion of the programmers, who created the web-site to correspond with the “up-to-date demands.” First, the opened page cannot be placed on the list: the line in the browser opens not the main page, but a specific document with its id.
While looking over this same id in the browser, the user can retreive the most unexpected documents. For example, this &to=http://www.government.ru/government/index.html?he_id=56' target=_blank>http://www.government.ru/government/index.html?he_id=56 is said to lead you to the main page, which is in reality the Valentina Matvienko page. There is an impression that namely the vice-premier is the author of the press-release about the “up-to-date demands.”
The same could be said about the other pages of the new site. However, forget this software, as, at least, there are worse cases.
What is more impressive are the “new modules.” One of them, which is the main one in the new version of the site, is proudly called &to=http://www.government.ru/intserv2/asks/index.html?he_id=458' target=_blank>"Interactive Services". It is said that one can now send letters to the government’s functionaries and the functionaries’ on-line press conferences, as well as “open discussions.”
The reader can send their letters, though it is not clear who will regulate this process. You can find “The Order of Consideration of Citizens Letters Sent through the Official Site of the Russian Government,” though this seems to be only an amateur creation of the creators of the site design. The users can either agree to this or be caught in some interactivity game, which is regulated by nothing, or just send the letter the traditional way. Apropos, in &to=http://www.government.ru/intserv2/asks/info.html?he_id=458' target=_blank>the second case, real documents are shown, on which relations between the supreme executive body and Russian citizens are based. Therefore, the main section of the new site suffers from unsolved legal problems with which the Federal Government should not place on-line.
The announced on-line press-conferences immediately restrict the number of people who can ask the functionaries questions. This hardly can be regarded as a novelty.
“Open discussions” are one more fantasy of the developers. They are supposed to take place in reality. However, what will be discussed? If there was a wish to discuss something, some bills sent by the Government to the Lower House or projects of some ministries and institutions would appear in proper rubrics. The citizens could see what was sent and to discuss this. There is nothing of the kind. Lastly, about half a year ago, Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin announced the apportion of several million dollars for Russian PR in the West, first of all, in the US. From this point of view, it looks completely foolish that the site has not one page in a foreign language, at least announcing who the Russian prime minister is as well his deputies.
These are the first signs of the state program. Now you can conclude what the program this is and for which purposes our money will be spent.
Petr Yermilin PRAVDA.Ru
P.S. Just after the publication, we tried to send a letter with some questions through the “interactive” part of the new governmet site. However, the service did not work and our letters did not go through.
Translated by Vera Solovieva
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969