Russia’s opaque digitalisation

13 Jan 2021

(Riddle) At the 2018 Gaidar Forum, an annual gathering of Russian experts and reformist officials, partticipants were asked to vote on their preferred methods of public control over the state. Digital platforms turned out to be the absolute leader, with 57% of votes. Representative democracy, meanwhile, gathered merely 11%. Such low support for democracy here partly reflects how Russia’s technocrats harbour a deep mistrust of “the will of the people”. It also partly reveals a perception that democratisation of the authoritarian regime in Russia is likely to entail high costs, not least to Russia’s technocrats themselves. But the high hopes for digitalisation are notable. How far can digitalisation really bolster accountability mechanisms in contemporary Russia? [...]

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