Taming Online Political Engagement in Russia: Disempowered Publics, Empowered State and Challenges of the Fully Functioning Society
This article examines the particularities of online political engagement in Russia and assesses social media potential for facilitating and empowering social movements in Russia through an examination of the political protests in 2011–2012. The case study illustrates effective mobilization and coalition building via social media during the political protests of 2011–2012, but the growing control of the Internet and online public sphere affects the publics’ ability to do so in the future. This study argues that the successes of the protest movement initiated a government crackdown on the Russian Internet and social media, with the Russian government actively seeking to tame and control communicative processes online through an increased presence of government and progovernment forces. The analysis suggests that the extensive and covert control of the online public sphere disempowers publics, making social media less capable of enabling a fully functioning society.