Moscow’s COVID visionaries Russia’s coronavirus PSA efforts will be led by two former Kremlin Internet czars, including one known for making Putin an erotic calendar
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the creation of a state-run center charged with informing citizens about the COVID-19 pandemic. The center will be built around an existing autonomous nonprofit called Dialogue. That group is directed by Alexey Goreslavsky, the former deputy director of the presidential administration’s public projects team. Goreslavsky essentially served as the Kremlin’s Internet policy curator.
Among Goreslavsky’s subordinates will be Vladimir Tabak, who will be responsible for information issued through the Internet and the media. Tabak is the former deputy director of the Kremlin’s Internet Development Institute (IRI), but he is best known for creating an erotic calendar addressed to Vladimir Putin and available for public sale. The calendar was composed of full-page photographs of female journalism students.
The Telegram channel Maisky Ukaz first reported that Goreslavsky and Tabak will lead the new information center. Two Meduza sources close to the federal government’s coordinating council on the coronavirus outbreak confirmed those reports.
In a conversation with Meduza, Tabak confirmed that Dialogue will be part of the government’s new public information effort. He added that he currently works as Dialogue’s deputy director and that his role in the new government center will cover “information risks, fakes, and content production.”
The government’s coordinating council for combatting the coronavirus was created on March 14 with Prime Minister Mishustin at its head. One member of the council, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, is in charge of setting up the coronavirus information center. Goreslavsky is not a member of the coordinating council, but he was present in photographs released after the council’s first meeting on Saturday.
According to Chernyshenko, the new center’s assigned tasks will include monitoring, informational support, and coordination with all of the coronavirus council’s members. The center will operate 24/7 and provide a daily report on the pandemic every morning at 6:30, he said.
The center’s first project is a new website, стопкоронавирус.рф (stopcoronavirus.rf). A source close to the coordinating council told Meduza that Dialogue developed the site and continues to support it. Tabak denied that report.
The coronavirus information center began operations on Tuesday, March 17. Vladimir Putin paid its employees a visit alongside Chernyshenko and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, who is the coronavirus coordination council’s first deputy director. The center is located at the same address on Frunze Street as the Dialogue office, one source told Meduza.
Dialogue was founded in November of last year by the Moscow government’s IT department. In February, when Goreslavsky left his post in the Putin administration, he took over the center. RBC has written that the organization will work to develop digital citizen feedback platforms for use around the country. The news outlet Proekt reported that Dialogue will also be undertaking efforts to increase voter turnout for the forthcoming plebiscite on Russia’s proposed constitutional changes and for the 2021 State Duma elections.
Meduza contacted the press service for Mishustin’s cabinet as well as Chernyshenko and Goreslavsky’s press secretaries with requests for comment. We did not receive any responses by the time this article was published.
Translation by Hilah Kohen