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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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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