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YAROSLAVL, September 8 (Itar-Tass) —— The modern mass media have lost their monopoly on shaping public opinion, but the rapidly growing social diversity can be another challenge for the state, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the full-scale session of the Yaroslavl International Political Forum.
"Last century in any advanced country an opinion was called public if it was expressed by three or four major television channels and several popular radio stations and newspapers," he recalled. "Today, there is no monopoly. Taking part in content creation can be anyone who wants to, literally everybody, for this one does not need to be a media mogul, editor or journalist," he said.
"Millions of Internet users influence the formation of the dominant trends of information, and not just influence, but often set them, and sometimes, quite paradoxically," said the president.
"Each of them, in principle, has a chance to tell the world the news that will change the world or the situation around. The expansion of so-called social media is impressive," he admitted. Medvedev said that today "the people themselves, willingly and quickly unite according to interest." He cited data showing that in the Russian social network VKontake there were about 17 million user groups, and in the global network Facebook - a billion communities.
"With the advent of the latest technologies the diversity and complexity of society have become apparent," said Medvedev. "The dominant cultures are subject to growing pressures from sub-cultural trends, and the Internet allows people to not just be different, but to publicly express individuality, to put it on display, something many are not ready for," he pointed out.
According to Medvedev, social diversity "is a decisive factor in the development of the individual, of groups and of ethnic groups, and influences the development of a democratic state."
"It teaches us all to coexist and cooperate with those who are not like us, to respect and try to understand those who think and act not like us," he said.
"At the same time, social diversity has brought with it new challenges, and state institutions are only beginning to learn to cope with them," declared the president. "Diversity, discord, disunity of the world impede the functioning of normal administrative procedures, and ethnic tensions, ethnic crime and illegal migration have become insoluble problems for some," said Medvedev.
The president warned that "some see all these phenomena as signs of social disintegration."
"Diversity is presented as senseless chaos, collapse of national unity and social solidarity," he said. "Then there follow some absolutely simple calls for using force to protect traditional culture and morality and so forth," said the president.
"At the same time there are calls completely opposite in nature - namely, for minimizing the role of bureaucracy, for letting society develop exclusively on the principles of self-organization, self-control, and self-government," said Medvedev.