The St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia’s investment showcase, has long been considered a good barometer of where the country is headed. From a party plaything dominated by oligarchs in the 2000s, it turned – as the Putin era progressed – into the dull shopfront for apparatchiks, state enterprise and propaganda that it is today.
Perhaps the most interesting message of this year’s event was delivered in the form of a flashy exhibition stand for RuTube, the tried-and-failed local alternative to YouTube.
Eyebrows were raised at the notion of a video-sharing dinosaur finding the cash to advertise alongside banks in the main foyer. But loyal Kremlin lieutenants were on hand to join the dots for those who didn’t immediately understand, using speeches to draw unambiguous new battle lines in their fight against global tech.
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