The Role of the Internet in the December 2011 Moscow Protests

88 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2018

Date Written: January 24, 2012


At the end of 2011, thousands of Moscow citizens protested against the December 4 election results for the 450-member Russian State Duma, the lower legislative chamber. In the months leading up to the election, an increasing number of Russian citizens had become angry and frustrated over rampant corruption and a worsening socio-economic situation. The flawed elections were the final straw, in making many Russians realize their lack of power and influence in the political process. Such Internet resources as LiveJournal and Facebook raised public awareness of the rigged elections in a new way. For several years prior to 2011, Russians with access to the Internet had been engaging in online discussions about their discontent with the ‘power vertical’ regime and its inability to address many social problems -- the most acute of which is rampant corruption. For the first time in Russian history, politically engaged citizens used the Internet and, more specifically, Web 2.0 to mount large-scale and highly successful protests. In a country in which media is highly censored, the Moscow protests, point directly to the crucial role of a free Internet in mobilizing the middle class.

To have an objective and unbiased opinion of the role of new technologies in social protests within the Russian society, there needs to be an understanding of the fact that Russian protests of the middle class occurred within a ten year system of ‘managed democracy’. This period of time must be examined within the context of Russia’s thousand year history. Any study of the technology’s penetration into the society, without an exploration of the social processes taking place in such a country, will inevitably create a distorted picture.

Keywords: Putin, Russia, Internet, Protest

JEL Classification: Z38

Suggested Citation

Freiberg, Phillip, The Role of the Internet in the December 2011 Moscow Protests (January 24, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Phillip Freiberg (Contact Author)

GSPA ( email )

118 Seri Thai Road
Bangkok, 10240
0994272805 (Phone)

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