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Putin Denies Ill Effects Of Internet Restrictions

Published: June 18, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • Sputnik.ru, a new Kremlin-backed Internet search engine, demonstrates Russia's recognition of the Internet as vital for the Russian economy.
    Photo: Sputnik.ru

On June 10, President Vladimir Putin known forbeing wary ofthe Internet, which he once called aCIA project recognized theindustry as animportant part ofthe Russian economy andsaid thegovernments restrictions onweb content will not restrict civil liberties.

The Internet has been transformed from a mere means of communication between people into a very profitable business in Russia, while the entire online sector accounts for 8.5 percent of the countrys gross domestic product, Putin said ata meeting with top industry managers, who used theopportunity totell thepresident about their professional triumphs andfailures.

With 61 million users, Russia is Europes fastest-growing Internet audience, according toa 2013 report byindustry body comScore, andsome key players inthe sector attribute this success toa lack ofstate interference.

Russia is one of the few Internet markets that boasts its own online services in almost every area. This was possible not because of some protection or support but because the industry was allowed to develop on its own in a competitive environment, said Arkady Volozh, founder and CEO of Yandex.

Russia has its own answers to Facebook, Google, and Amazon in the form of Vkontakte, Yandex and Ozon. The country now has a good chance of expanding its products to other markets, the executives said. This process is already under way.

Today you can go toIstanbul airport andfind out that taxi drivers are using Yandex.Probki [traffic service] tonavigate thecity, Volozh said.

He also said theexpansion ofYandexs presence outside Russia is vital because it can give Internet users more options.

Only four countries inthe world can choose between search engines. Forothers, there is only one service they can use, Volozh said.

Russian Internet giant Mail.Ru is also going global.

Thecompany is successfully growing inthe U.S., Canada andmany European countries andhas already forced anumber ofstart-ups fromthose markets, said Dmitry Grishin, co-founder andCEO ofMail.Ru Group.

Grishin said that Russian companies have competed well internationally because they were allowed to develop in an open and free environment. Most businessmen operating in the sector concur that contact with state authorities can only have a negative impact, he added.

Putin agreed that while excessive government interference is detrimental, at least some degree of Internet regulation is unavoidable.

Every day athird of our population uses theInternet one way or theother, which is what we are talking about here. Ofcourse it requires some regulation, theKremlins press-service cited Putin as saying.

Federal Mass Media Inspection Service already has theright toban websites containing extremist content without obtaining acourt order, prompting fears inthe Internet community that bloggers andopposition leaders would face increasing persecution.

Just last month Putin signed alaw requiring websites that attract more than 3,000 daily visits toregister with theregulator as amass media outlet. Search engines have already said they will refrain fromposting news ontheir websites if that demand is made ofthem.

However, anamendment that is currently under consideration would allow search engines tobe called news aggregators, which would exempt them fromthese procedures.

Putin said thegovernments restrictions are not aimed athurting businesses or violating peoples rights, but are meant toprotect children fromharmful influences onthe web.

We have debated these restrictions onpedophilia, onthe promotion ofdrugs, terrorism or advocating suicide alot, Putin said. But listen, we are all grown-ups, lets stop. Lets leave our children inpeace.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

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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