Moscow: 7 billion roubles to promote 'spiritual and moral content' online
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The funds are in addition to another 3 billion already allocated by the government. The project's main target audience will be young people. An initiative supported by Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev): "We urgently need to respond intervene to the youth crisis", especially after the protests in favour of Aleksej Naval'nyj.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - In recent days, the Russian government has decided to allocate 7 billion roubles (about 9 million euro) for 200 projects to promote  "spiritual and moral content" online targeting young people. The funds will go to the Institute for the Development of the Internet, under the title of "contents of state interest" for the "Runet", the self-sufficient variant of the Internet, which for the moment is only virtual. The 7 billion will be added to an initial funding of 3 billion, already included in the state budget.

The ethical content of the project is aimed at "forming a civil conscience and moral and spiritual values among young people", and must be submitted by 31 December this year, as the director general of the Institute for Internet Development, Anton Ključkin, told Rbk. He foresees "a significant increase in available funds" of over 15 billion roubles next year, which will grow further in the years to come, according to President Putin himself.

The Institute headed by Ključkin has been active since 2015, and several public and private bodies for the development of internet technologies participated in its foundation, with the support of the presidential administration. The Institute's task is to "create a space for discussion for the internet and the communications sector, conducting public and commissioned research and fostering dialogue between industry and authorities".

Since 2020, the institute has been entrusted with public competitions for youth content. As Ključkin explains, the powerful Gazprom-media participates in their organisation along with other leading groups, including the first television channel and the Yandex portal. There will be fruitful cooperation with producers and independent agencies within the framework of co-financed projects.

The projects will then be assessed by a board of observers that has already been set up and is chaired by the deputy director of the presidential administration, Sergei Kirienko, former head of the government during the Yeltsyn years and considered by many to be a possible heir to Putin. It includes top-level representatives of the media, film and entertainment industries. The committee for the production of the chosen content will be headed by the deputy director of the National Media Group, responsible for the entertainment sector, Vjačeslav Murugov.

One of the most active producers of internet content in Russia, Anton Kalinkin, founder of the web cinema Chill, commented on the initiative saying that "certainly the media and web industry needs this state support, but it is very difficult to harmonise the language of 'positive' and pro-state content with the intended audience of the younger generations of today's Russians".

The patriarch of Moscow, Kirill (Gundjaev), has himself repeatedly stressed the need to "intervene to respond to the crisis of our youth", especially after the January protests in favour of Aleksej Naval'nyj, with many young people taking to the streets to demonstrate. Kirill had then thundered that "we see how often our young people lose their heads, losing any real direction in life, affecting the whole of society in a destructive way". The Patriarch pointed out the primary responsibility of the media, including television "and especially the internet", which is why it is necessary to "organise a flow of information that verifies the ideas that are spread, distinguishing the good ones from the obscure ones". 

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