Moscow: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday joined the likes of Barack Obama, Beyonce and Pope Benedict XVI as he launched his own channel on Google’s YouTube site in a bid to reach out to youth.
“We are very happy that the Russian President has opened his channel on YouTube,” a Moscow-based spokeswoman for Google said.
“This is one more confirmation that Internet is becoming an important communications means at the state level,” said the spokeswoman, Alla Zabrovskaya.
Medvedev, a 43-year-old who claims to be an avid Internet user, first began blogging on the official Kremlin website last year.
In April, he announced the launch of his blog on the Russian version of LiveJournal, a portal seen as an outpost of free speech in Russia.
The launch of the channel, www.youtube.com/kremlin , has coincided with the start of a new academic year in Russia and in his first video Medvedev addressed schoolchildren, stressing the importance of good neighbourly ties in a multinational country.
One of the most popular websites, YouTube allows to upload and share videos. Google does not release estimates of the YouTube audience in Russia.
Observers say there is an unspoken competition between Medvedev and his mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for attention of average Russians.
Television remains the preferred means of reaching out to Russians for Putin, who in the past months has stolen the limelight with his dive to the bottom of the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal, aboard a mini-submarine and bare-chested holiday trips.
Zubovskaya said she was unaware whether Putin planned to launch a YouTube channel too.
US President Barack Obama, the pope, the French leader Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth all have pages on YouTube.
Also on Tuesday, the presidential administration relaunched the Kremlin website, featuring Medvedev’s personal photos including his childhood pictures, and a special section for his wife Svetlana.