About the archive

Video appeals to the president of Russia constitute one of the most distinctive types of video content in the Russian-language segment of the Internet. These videos are recorded and posted online by diverse groups and individuals in Russia as attempts to prompt President V.V. Putin (2000-2008, 2012-present) to directly resolve specific social, economic, cultural, and environmental problems, or express opinions on his policies regarding corruption, COVID-19 and the war against Ukraine, and give general praise or criticism of his presidency.

A video appeal features an individual or a group of people who address the president directly. These recordings tell stories of everyday struggle and often employ creative strategies such as the use of poetry, song, dance, chant, endearing visual elements (children, small animals, puppets, etc.), or do completely without the spoken word with pleas “composed” by arranging cars,  bodies  or slogans  filmed from a bird’s eye view.

It appears that the phenomenon was initially triggered by the television program Direct Line with Vladimir Putin (Priamaia linia s Vladimirom Putinym), or, simply Direct Line (Priamaia liniia). The program has been broadcast live by Russian state television channels annually since 2001, excluding 2004 and 2012 but including the years when Putin served as Prime Minister (2008-2012), under slightly varying titles.  During the broadcast the president in a TV studio answers questions from citizens of Russia, seeking his help.

The content of this material and its role as a primary source can be compared to epistolary archives and, specifically, letters to the authorities written by Soviet citizens. 

In 2019 Harvard Library began building a collection of video appeals to the President of Russia. In 2021 it joined forces with Princeton University Library to preserve selected videos in a web archive under the auspices of the Ivy Plus Libraries Web Collecting Program.

The complete raw list of links for the video appeals is available as an online open-access Zotero library.

The videos from the list can also be viewed on an interactive map.

Image source: screenshot from video recorded by the Russian folk song group “Yarilo”.