MOSCOW – Russia's new 42-year-old president showed frustration with government officials who do not know how to use a computer and warned Thursday that they could soon be out of a job.
"They either should learn or, as they say, goodbye," President Dmitry Medvedev said. "We don't hire people who can't read and write. Computer literacy today is the same."
Since taking office in May, Medvedev has made it his mission to modernize Russia and fight pervasive corruption.
He said Thursday that, if the government carried out more of its work online, it would increase transparency and make corruption more difficult to hide.
But Medvedev said there had been no real progress toward putting documents, government purchase orders or the results of government-funded research online, despite years of talk about establishing an "electronic government."
He blamed the foot-dragging on poor computer skills.
"Civil servants who don't have elementary computer skills cannot work effectively," he said during a nationally televised meeting with federal and regional officials in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk.
Computer literacy should be part of job evaluations, Medvedev said.
For the government's part, he said, it should help increase Internet access and possibly compensate students for their Internet use.
Medvedev often makes a point of noting his use of the Internet. In an interview with the magazine Itogi before his election in March, he said he even watches the television news online.
Internet penetration in Russia is among the lowest in Europe, with only 12 percent of people age 15 or older online, according to a 2007 study by Internet research company comScore.
But Russia also has the fastest growing Internet population in Europe, the study showed.