Faced with huge protests in Moscow last December and growing unrest over government corruption and inefficiency, the Kremlin last week launched a new website called "Russia Without Fools" to create a sort of online support group for angry citizens. Russians are being asked to log on and share their gripes about inept officials with a promise from the government that complaints will be reviewed and addressed. No one seems particularly convinced that the site — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called it a "stupidity contest" — will lead to any problems actually being resolved, but it was immediately popular enough even on its first day that the traffic nearly crashed the servers.
In the first day of its existence, Jan. 22, the site got more than 135,000 visitors, about as many as attended the December demonstrations in Moscow, and two days later, more than 1,000 of them had posted stories of the government's ineptitude. "We had to plug in the backup servers to deal with the avalanche of stupidity," says Raf Shakirov, the director of the project. "I was like, Wow. We're going to have to hire more people."
The complaints that people have sent in confirm mostly that Russia's bureaucracy still sounds as surrealist as it does in any of Nikolai Gogol's 19th-century short stories:
Most of the content describes bizarre encounters with officialdom — a letter sent to the prosecutor's office, for instance, comes back with a note saying that no such organization exists — but the site also has a competition for elocutionary gems. The Russian Health Minister, Tatyana Golikova, took second place in the vote for saying: "We need to catch more diseases and learn to cure them in a way that does not cause death."
So, readers, what would be the American equivalent?
[Image via AP]