On September 14 the Russian President celebrated his 45th birthday. It was his third birthday as President, and he, most certainly, had received dozens of phone calls from high-level officials and foreign counterparts over the past years. In 2010, however, wishes and congrats poured in from all over the world, in their hundreds, from... Twitter!
Image from Ria Novosti Cartoons.
Medvedev started his Twitter account last June, while visiting Silicon Valley. He has two officially verified personal accounts: @KremlinRussia (Tweets in Russian) and @KremlinRussia_E (Tweets in English). There is also the @blog_medvedev account, which simply relays the President's blog post updates. As September 14 progressed, the "word" of Medvedev's birthday got viral, prompting many to express their wishes and words of advice.
Here are some noteworthy highlights mentioning the Russian account (and this is just a sample):
"Thanks to Twitter, I know that our President, @KremlinRussia has a birthday today! And who said this is a useless website?"
"I'm still on time to congratulate your 45th Birthday, Dmitry Anatolievich @KremlinRussia! I wish you one second term as President. Good luck!"
There were several high-ranking Russian officials congratulating on Twitter too:
- Vladimir @Zhirinovskiy:
"Happy Birthday, Dmitry Anatolievich. New approaches to work, that you are successfully implementing, are vitally important for Russia!"
- Dmitry @Rogozin:
"The Russian Brussels congratulates President D. A. Medvedev's Birthday! We are waiting for your visit!"
And certainly, Nikita Belykh (@NikitaBelyh), the Governor of Kirov Region, who made the news two weeks ago with his Tweet-o-enthusiasm:
"@KremlinRussia when I was 25, I thought 35 will be the end of life. Now, when I'm 35, I realize that 45 is the time for grand achievements ;) Happy Birthday! Sincerely!"
@KremlinRussia kindly acknowledged and thanked his followers for all the wishes:
[Eng: Thank you all for the congratulations. It's very nice. Honesssly!]
The last part was, most probably, misspelled on purpose, and received special attention from Tweeters:
"'Honestly' is written with a 't' RT @KremlinRussia Thank you all for the congratulations. It's very nice. Honesssly!"
"President's press office: closer to the peoppple RT @KremlinRussia Thank you all for the congratulations. It's very nice. Honesssly!"
"@KremlinRussia, can't make it without mistakes? Or is it supposed to be cool?"
- @Dunya89 was more curious about the after-party:
"On the post-celebration morning must certainly ask @KremlinRussia for anti-hangover tips!"
The English-language account received some special attention, too:
"Also, it's Medvedev's birthday today! go wish him a happy birthday at @kremlinrussia_E he's adorable, it's worth it"
- @flowersandfun sent a special Tweet-card from the UK:
"Happy Birthday, @KremlinRussia_E. Here's a birthday card we made just for you! http://is.gd/faBq2"
And a memorable Tweet from a special fan:
"@kremlinRussia_E: с днем рождения! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEDVEDEV! CONTINUE BEING THE GQMF HBIC OF RUSSIA. I LOVE YOU!!! STAY FLY~"
[For those unfamiliar with the Internet slang, I suggest you look here.]
Certainly, a great illustration of the increasingly horizontal flows of communication, both within Russia as well as internationally. A more or less direct interaction with thousands of individuals is gradually becoming the norm and, as shown, seems to be working fairly well. It was particularly interesting to observe the public diplomacy element of it, since the news spread in the Tweet-o-sphere and reached many around the world.
After all, successful communication strategies that use social media are striving to achieve just that.