Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign website launched today, and within minutes, was swamped by comments from voters begging him to resign and give up his bid for another go-round in office.
"Leave politics, please. It is obvious that power is like a drug but it would be a decent move," wrote commenter Andrei Antinenko, according to Reuters.
"You have been in power for 12 years. It is enough,” another commenter opined, according to Reuters. “Everything you could do, you already did. One should not rule forever. The country will not survive another term of your presidency.”
According to the Associated Press, online daily Gazeta.ru reported that other visitors rated the critical messages the most popular on the website.
The BBC Russian Service reported that these comments disappeared from the website after a few hours, though some later reappeared with much lower popularity ratings, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Putin's spokesman and campaign official Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that the anti-Putin comments hadn’t disappeared for political reasons and claimed that some of them were spam, Reuters reported. "All this fuss with calls for resignation is a kind of computer game that children are playing at. It has nothing to do with constructive dialogue," Peskov told Reuters.
According to the AP:
Some 80 percent of Russians still rely on television as their main news source, and the Kremlin has effectively put national TV networks under its control. But Internet use is growing dramatically and the free exchange of critical information has begun to erode the Kremlin's ability to influence public opinion.
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