October 13, 2010 / 6:55 PM / 7 years ago

Kremlin lambasts governor for "worm" tweet

3 Min Read

<p>An attendee tweet on a laptop as Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, Inc., gives the keynote speech at the 140: Twitter Conference LA in Los Angeles September 22, 2009.Phil McCarten</p>

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A tweet by a Russian regional governor about earthworms served at a Kremlin reception has drawn anger from President Dmitry Medvedev's aide, who on Wednesday said the official should be sacked for "idiocy."

Dmitry Zelenin, the governor of the Tver region northwest of adjacent Moscow, wrote in his Twitter microblog that "a salad with live earthworms" was served with beef at a dinner to honor German President Christian Wulff's Tuesday visit.

On his post, he attached a picture of the salad, which clearly showed an earthworm crawling on the side of the plate.

"I should recommend my colleague's lawyers to introduce a legal option to sack governors due to their idiocy," Medvedev's foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko told the state-run RIA news agency on Wednesday.

Medvedev, who has been running his own Twitter microblog since visiting the United States earlier this year, has power to de-facto appoint and dismiss heads of Russia's 83 regions after his predecessor and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin abolished direct election in 2004.

Zelenin, a 47-year-old former CEO of the world's largest nickel miner Norilsk Nickel, has since removed the tweet along with the picture.

"It was a very special way to show the salad was fresh," the governor wrote in the original tweet with obvious irony.

A passion for gadgets, fashionable web services and public life characterize the new breed of Russian bureaucrats grouped around Medvedev, setting them apart from the secretive, ex-intelligence and military officers more loyal to Putin.

Such hobbies may play against Medvedev ahead of the approaching presidential poll in 2012, in which Medvedev is seen as a potential candidate.

Within the Kremlin twittersphere, officials discuss their holidays, sport activities and business trips, but stay away from politically sensitive subjects such as the sacking last month by Medvedev of powerful Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

In August, Medvedev lambasted regional head Nikita Belykh during a Kremlin meeting on education, in which Belykh was sending tweets. Medvedev said Belykh "had nothing better to do."

Belykh, a former opposition leader appointed by Medvedev to head the impoverished Kirov region east of Moscow, immediately put his Ipad aside after Medvedev's remark but later boasted that the scolding had added 1,000 followers to his microblog.

Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Charles Dick

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