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Putin Signs the Order For Russian e-Petition Portal

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 7 2013

Vladimir Putin (Wikimedia Commons).

Russian citizens will soon have their own e-petition portal, though they may not be able to demand the construction of a Death Star.  President Vladimir Putin signed an order earlier this week to create The Russian Public Initiative, a site will launch in April for e-petitions to the federal government, with regional and local petitions following later in the year.

Global Voices reported that the launch comes amid controversy. The fact that the e-petition initiative was originally assigned by Putin to Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev comes as somewhat of a humiliation to Medvedev’s government, which fell short of developing the portal by its target date of September of last year.  Putin’s order also strikes down plans from Open Government Affairs Minister Mikhail Abyzov, which would have given review of petitions over to experts chosen by Abyzov.

The new order mandates that Kremlin representatives take part in the review of petitions, along with experts in different subjects.  Website maintenance will be handled by the Information Democracy Foundation, an NGO headed by former Deputy Minister of Communications Ilya Massukh.

Unlike the White House’s We the People platform, which has entertained even the most ludicrous petitions with a response, the Russian Public Initiative places strict limitations on what submissions will be considered, reports Global Voices:

The text bans petitions if they’re redundant with existing petitions, unconstitutional, profane, extremist, or silent about actual policy suggestions. The Information Democracy Foundation gets a first pass at removing any offending proposals (before they’re even voted upon), and expert groups composed of state officials and industry figures will pass judgment on all petitions that collect the minimum support (100 thousand votes for national initiatives, or 5% of local communities for lower level issues).

As techPresident wrote in January, We the People has given the current American administration a unique form of outreach to people far outside Obama’s core base, whether secessionists or gun control supporters demanding the deportation of Piers Morgan

Knowing the Russian Internet, netizens are likely to throw some curveballs. The spirit in which the administration responds to these petitions could determine whether the platform becomes a helpful political tool, or ends up dead in the water. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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