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Putin Says CIA Created the Internet, Cites Foreign Influence at Yandex

Published: April 25, 2014 (Issue # 1807)



  • A blogger holding up a poster of Putin at a forum in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
    Photo: Kremlin.ru

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the Internet was a CIA project and that Russia's most popular search engine Yandex had been subject to Western influence when it started out.

The president told a media forum that the Internet "emerged as a special project of the U.S. CIA and develops as such," Interfax reported.

"When they [Yandex] had just started out, they also came under pressure: They had to have a certain number of Americans, a certain number of Europeans, and they were forced to agree to that," Putin said, Interfax reported.

He told the forum, organized by his All-Russia People's Front organization, that the company was partly registered abroad, "not only for tax purposes but for other reasons."

The search engine's parent company Yandex NV is registered in the Netherlands and made its IPO on the New York-based NASDAQ exchange in 2011.

Yandex responded to the president's comments, saying that foreign investment "is normal practice for any Internet startup in any country in the world," and that "the financial interests of investors and the directors of the company at Yandex have always been separate," Interfax reported.

The company said it paid "practically all" its taxes in Russia, and that it was registered in the Netherlands due to peculiarities in corporate law, not for tax reasons, the news agency reported.

Putin said the U.S. was the "pioneer of the [Internet] field, and they are trying to hold on to their monopoly. But that is impossible in the modern world and we need to purposefully fight for our interests."

The State Duma passed legislative changes earlier this week requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and store users' information for six months, restrictions that some observers speculate could lead to conflicts with foreign sites such as Facebook, Gmail and Skype, and even to the blocking of access to these sites in Russia.

The founder of Russia's Facebook analogue Vkontakte, Pavel Durov, said earlier this month that he had received government requests for information about Russian opposition and Ukrainian protester pages but refused to comply. After announcing on Monday that he had learned of his firing from Vkontakte through the media, Durov left Russia and has said that he is currently in Central Europe looking for a base from which to start a new mobile social network.

Last week, the State Duma passed amendments to an anti-terrorism bill that will allow Russian bloggers to be prosecuted for publishing content deemed to be a threat to national security.

Under the amendment, any blogger, social network site or personal website receiving more than 3,000 hits a day with commercial advertising on their blog will be categorized as online media.

The fines for breaking the new law range from 10,000 to 50,000 rubles ($280 to $1,400) for individuals, and 50,000 to 500,000 rubles for legal entities.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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