On May 18th, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev posted his first instagram pic on twitter. It is just a link and no description, which (I've heard?) is a twitter faux pas, but hey! the former President of the Motherland is exempt from twitter rules. This is the pic:
Reactions from Russians are, not surprisingly, mostly mockeries. Some are angry and some are charmed. @v_kovalchuk writes*, "Medvedev started an instagram, how I've waited for this. He's totally going to show us his manicure, his cats, and his Kremlin food." There's a clearly defined element of vanity in instagram that is hilarious when mixed with Russian politicians. Russians seem to think so too. @rasozzz writes, "To the post of ex-President, the Prime Minister and professional photographer added yet another responsibility: to be the country's main hipster..."
Others are bitter. @konda_kun says, "Medvedev counted down the days until inauguration. He wanted to escape the presidency in order to start an instagram and spam us on twitter."
Starting up an instagram seems like a counterintuitive reaction on Medvedev's part to the pretty humiliating thing of having the Presidency taken from him by a stronger, more powerful man. The New York Times recently emphasized Medvedev's need to become less of a joke to the Russian people:
Last week, Mr. Medvedev seemed to rebrand himself in preparation for leaving the presidency, tacking away from the progressives who were once his target constituency and reassuring members of United Russia that he had never espoused liberal views to begin with. “They often tell me, ‘You’re a liberal,’ ” he said. “I can tell you frankly: I have never had liberal convictions.”
But Medvedev, then you posted this, with the caption, "negotiations with Barack Obama out in nature":
Tell me again, how is that NOT a blatant symbol of liberal convictions?
Now that he is Prime Minister, Medvedev claims to be open to "all political forces." He "rebranded" himself. Mostly the rebrand is liberal, but in the Russian public he makes sure to announce that it is anything but.
Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, was quoted in the New York Times: “He is really deeply, deeply damaged goods as a result of this very, very badly bungled switch. If he is supposed to be effective, he needs a makeover. He needs a reinvigoration. He needs a demonstration that he is not a joke.”
Why did he turn to instagram on this one?
@correktor tweets, "...when Medvedev is flying and a pretty instagram picture of him doesn't happen, does he ask the pilot to go around again?"
In a way, @correktor is, purposely or not, talking about Medvedev's pleas for a second chance at any kind of an appealing image. And instagram is certainly appealing:
@pimkinanadya: "On Russia channel 1 [main news channel in Russia] now there's a special on hipsters, and Medvedev started an instagram. democracy, I love you."
*All tweets are translated from Russian by me.