World / Europe

Putin calls on Russians to stop using Google

By Agencies in Moscow (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-26 07:22

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Internet on Thursday a "CIA project" and warned Russians against making Google searches.

Putin assured a group of young journalists that the Internet was controlled from the start by the US' Central Intelligence Agency, and its surveillance continues today.

"That's life. That's how it's organized by Americans. You know all of this started during the dawn of the Internet as a special project of the CIA. And it keeps on developing," Putin said in televised comments.

Responding to questions from a young pro-Kremlin blogger, Putin warned that information entered on Google "all goes through servers that are in the (United) States, everything is monitored there".

He also made ominous comments on Russia's most popular search engine Yandex, suggesting it could become more tightly controlled.

Yandex is "partly registered abroad and not just for tax reasons, but for other reasons too", Putin said, mentioning it is partly owned by international investors and reiterating his fear of foreign control of the Internet.

When Yandex was starting out, Putin said, they were "pressured" to have "that many Americans and this many Europeans among the executives".

Putin calls on Russians to stop using Google

"We must fight determinedly for our own interests. This process is happening. And we will support it from the government side, of course," he said without elaborating.

Yandex handles some 60 percent of search queries in Russia and has a presence in several other countries. It allows users to search blogs and rates the most popular entries.

Yandex's shares fell over 4.3 percent on the Nasdaq after Putin's comments.

The company said in a statement that it was registered in the Netherlands "solely due to the specifics of corporate law", not because of the low taxes there, and added that its core business is based in Russia and "practically all the taxes are paid in Russia".

"Since our main business is in Russia, we pay almost all taxes in Russia," Yandex said.

The 61-year-old Russian president has frequently been scathing about the Internet, which he once described as "half pornography", unlike Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who posts photographs on Twitter.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, insisted this month that the president is a regular Internet user.


(China Daily 04/26/2014 page7)

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