Operational environment for Russian Internet media worsens. [IntelliNews - Weekly Reports]
(IntelliNews - Weekly Reports Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Several recent events indicate rapid deterioration of Russia's internet media and business environment amidst the worst cooling between Russia and the West since the cold war.
Russia's largest search engine Yandex, shortly publishing Q1 US GAAP financials, had to refute the allegations of the president Vladimir Putin that Yandex's servers and corporate structure was somehow "westernised". The company issued a statement saying all of its major servers and information hubs were stationed in Russia.
At the same conference were Putin made the statements, one of the participants argued to the president that Yandex was "both a search engine, and a media", noting that it was not licensed as one. Prime reminds that Yandex among other things only provides automated aggregation of third-party content. Putin, in turn, suggested that Internet was created as a special project by the C.I.A and continues to develop in this vector.
Most recently State Duma has passed a law which equates bloggers and internet resources with an audience of more than 3,000 people to traditional media that need to comply with respective legislation.
Founder and ex-shareholder of Russia's largest social network V Kontakte Pavel Durov cited "situation incompatible" with internet business as a reason for recently leaving Russia. Prior to that, Durov was squeezed out of the board and his position in the network by new shareholders that are affiliated with Kremlin and Putin's ally Igor Sechin, as Durov claimed after.
One of the shareholders of V Kontakte internet group Mail.ru issued a statement in which it warned that Russia might lose internet as leverage for economic growth due to poor operational and legal environment. The company noted that due to lack of cumbersome regulation Russian internet companies have developed rapidly and are competitive as compared to their foreign counterparts.
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