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Putin - the internet is worth 8.5% of GDP

0 12 June 2014

Internet business in Russia is a profitable enterprise worth 8.5% of GDP, according to Vladimir Putin

Russia’s president was speaking this week at the “Internet Business in Russia” forum, which was attended by top figures from Russia’s leading internet companies, including Yandex’s Arkady Volozh, Mail.ru’s Dmitry Grishin, Ozon’s Maelle Gavet and LiveInternet’s German Klimenko. 

Putin added that

“the internet in our country has turned from a place for socialising into a very profitable business, worth 8.5% of GDP. The total value of markets, connected in some way or other with the internet, exceeds 5 trillion roubles ($160 billion).”

While the president’s words suggest that he is starting to fully appreciate the economic potential of the web, his subsequent comments about regulation did little to ease the fears of those concerned about the Kremlin’s approach to governing the internet. After Mail.ru boss Dmitry Grishin pointed out that while regulation “is necessary, things begun with good intentions often turn out badly”, Putin responded by saying:

“On the internet social interaction happens on a huge scale - of course this has to be regulated… while we, grown adults, might not need it, let’s spare a thought for our children.”

The president also took the opportunity to voice his concerns about the dominance of certain search-engines, saying that

“you spoke about three or four countries that have their own search engines. For the sake of experiment, let’s imagine that each of these has full sovereignty over their affairs. If each one is run by one owner, then it's a monopoly. And a monopoly is only a good thing when it’s yours.”

This is in line with Putin’s recent negative comments about Yandex, and the Kremlin’s decision to create its own search engine via state telecoms corporation Rostelekom. 

Representatives from FRII (the Internet Initiative Development Fund), Putin’s pet internet project, also attended the meeting. The president reaffirmed his support of the project, which the state has backed to the tune of 6 billion roubles ($180 million) adding that 

“I really hope that (FRII’s) resources will be used as effectively as possible to increase the number of projects and help them benefit the economy, society and individuals working in the internet sector.”

He also met with representatives of a number of startups currently participating in FRII’s acceleration program. One of these was Maraquia, a project that allows anyone to have trees planted in the Meshera National Park. Putin chose to plant 6,000 trees, and promised that  “I’ll pay for my trees myself”.

Source: Vedomosti

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