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Article

‘LiveJournal Libra!’: The political blogosphere and voting preferences in Russia in 2011–2012

New Media and Society. 2015. Vol. 17. No. 10. P. 1715-1732.

This study explores relationship between the Internet and the Russian national election of 2011-2012. In contrast to other studies, we focus on the blogosphere as a political factor. Our conclusions are based on a study of the LiveJournal blogging platform represented by a sample of political posts from the top 2000 bloggers for 13 week-long periods. Sampling from the population of about 180,000 posts was performed automatically with a topic modelling algorithm, while the analysis of the resulting 3690 texts was carried out manually by five coders. We found that the most influential Russian blogs perform the role of a media “stronghold” of the political opposition. Moreover, we established a relationship between the weekly pre-election ratings of the opposition parties and presidential candidates and the indicators of political activity in the blogosphere. Our results cautiously suggest that political activity on the Internet is not simply an online projection of offline political activity: it can itself provoke activity in offline political life.