A draft law proposing to limit foreign ownership in ‘significant’ Russian technology firms to 20% is not aimed at making its top search engine Yandex state-owned, the lawmaker behind the idea, Anton Gorelkin, said. The draft law, submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, in late July, proposes limiting foreign ownership in internet firms to 20% if they are considered by a special commission to be a “significant source of information”. The draft, prepared by Gorelkin, raised concerns it would damage the ability of Russian companies to compete globally. It has attracted criticism from several sides, including from the companies themselves. “I believe that Yandex should not be state-owned, but it should be Russian,” Gorelkin said. “Not only Yandex, but all the companies that are systematically important for our IT market.” The proposal concerns only the companies for which the Russian market is core, which means, if approved, it would not affect Facebook or Google, Gorelkin said. “Facebook has about 20 million users in Russia, and Yandex has about 100 million,” Gorelkin said. “We are talking about companies focused on Russia – this would concern neither Google, nor Facebook.” The draft law may impact three to five key players in the Russian IT sector, he said, without naming them. Along with Yandex, Russian internet group Mail.Ru, which owns social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, warned against adopting the law in its form as of late July. Critics say Russian authorities have over recent years taken steps to tighten control
Twenty years ago on Friday, Russian president Boris Yeltsin appointed his fourth prime minister in less than 18 months: Vladimir Putin, then a relatively unknown security services chief with scant experience of politics. The departing Yeltsin was casting around for a successor and few could have predicted that two decades later Putin would still be ruling Russia, having taken on a dominant role in world affairs. But the anniversary comes at a time of uncertainty in the leader’s reign. Putin’s approval ratings remain at a level most Western leaders would envy but they have taken a hit from a stalling economy and declining living standards. A protest movement in Moscow has meanwhile seen thousands arrested in recent weeks — the largest crackdown since a wave of demonstrations against Putin returning to the Kremlin in 2012 after another spell as prime minister. The 66-year-old is meanwhile facing a succession drama of his own. This is his last term in office according to the Russian constitution but — after stamping out the competition and taking control of most of the media — there is no obvious figure to replace him. Analysts say it is unlikely that Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin will give up power completely when his current term ends in 2024. Putin the liberalThe picture was very different when Putin won his first presidential election following Yeltsin’s early resignation on New Year’s Eve, 2000. “Russia, despite its poverty and problems with criminality, was still a democratic, liberal country,” said
Ukraine’s new leader said he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to urge him to help halt fighting in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he asked the Russian leader to “influence the other side so that they stop killing our people.” Zelenskiy’s call came a day after four Ukrainian soldiers were killed by pro-Russia insurgents. Separatist rebels said they were returning fire after Ukrainian shelling of a school. The Kremlin said in its take on the call that Putin emphasized that the Ukrainian troops should stop shelling residential areas since that results in civilian casualties. The conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and has killed more than 13,000 people. Germany and France helped broker a 2015 agreement signed in Minsk that helped reduce fighting, but clashes have continued and peace efforts have stalled. Zelenskiy, a comedian without political experience, was elected in a landslide in April on promises to end the conflict in the east and tackle rampant official corruption. He said Wednesday he expects to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the day to push for a meeting with them and Putin to search for a peaceful settlement in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin said Putin, on the call with Zelenskiy, underlined the need for Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreement, including its provision of granting a special status to Ukraine’s separatist regions.
The Russian opposition vowed to stage another mass rally Saturday despite increasing pressure from authorities, who arrested nearly 1,400 people at a protest last week and have launched a criminal probe into the movement. The march along Moscow’s leafy boulevards will be the latest in a series of demonstrations after officials refused to let popular opposition candidates run in next month’s city parliament elections. The local issue has boiled over into one of the worst political conflicts of recent years, with rallies of up to 22,000 people and police violence against demonstrators. Over 6,000 people said on Facebook they would take part in the march along Moscow’s so-called Boulevard Ring on Saturday to “bring back the right to elections”. Officials say candidates were disqualified because they forged the necessary signatures. But candidates, including allies of top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, insist their signatures were thrown out arbitrarily, and the whole vetting process was skewed against them. Many Muscovites said their signatures in support of the opposition were declared invalid with no reason. Right to choose Some turned up at previous protests brandishing banners with slogans such as “I have a right to choose”. In the polls in September, the opposition hopes to end the monopoly of Kremlin loyalists in Moscow’s parliament. The body decides over the city’s multi-billion-dollar budget but lacks political independence from mayor Sergei Sobyanin, an ally of Putin. Putin has yet to comment on the political crisis in Moscow. Navalny and other protest leaders argue corruption is
The United States plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under a landmark, 32-year-old arms control treaty that the U.S. and Russia ripped up on Friday. Washington and Moscow walked out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed in 1987, raising fears of a new arms race. The U.S. blamed Moscow for the death of the treaty. It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the United States and its allies, particularly in Europe. “There still were some hopes pinned on our partners, that, unfortunately, did not materialize. I think, now we all can see that a blow has been dealt to strategic security. This US move will cause uncertainty and chaotic development of international politics.” Mikhail Gorbachev said. Gorbachev has firsthand knowledge of the particulars of the treaty, having signed it in 1987 together with then-US-president Ronald Reagan. The agreement banned the development, production, or deployment of land-based and cruise missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km. “Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement released on Friday. But the U.S. also sees an upside to exiting the treaty. Washington has complained for years that the arms control playing field was unfair. U.S. officials argued that not only was Russia violating the treaty and developing prohibited weapons, but that China also was making similar
Serbia’s leader on Monday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for boosting the Balkan nation’s military with battle tanks and armored vehicles, amid Western fears that the arms buildup could threaten fragile peace in the region. President Aleksandar Vucic inspected the delivery of 10 recently arrived Russian armored patrol vehicles at a Serbian army military base, part of the promised supply of 30 secondhand T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicles. The vehicles have been delivered despite neighboring Romania’s refusal to let them transit via the Danube River because of international sanctions in place against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. Romania is a NATO member while Serbia claims military neutrality despite close ties with Moscow. Media reports say Russia flew the 10 armored vehicles to Serbia last week on its transport planes using Hungarian airspace. “The most important thing for us is that we managed to transport the vehicles to Serbia,” Aleksandar Vucic said. “How and which way they came, that is our business.” Russia has been helping its ally Serbia beef up its military, raising concerns in the war-scarred Balkan region. During the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia was at war with neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Serbia, the only remaining Russian ally in the region despite its proclaimed goal of joining the European Union, has already received six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and expects the delivery of additional attack and transport helicopters by the end of this year. Vucic thanked Putin for