As of the last tax year, that was the sum in Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s bank account. It had doubled compared to the year just before he became “president” of the country, although his salary in the intervening three years remained constant and was far lower than he received as the top executive at Gazprom, Russia’s largest business entity. Medvedev’s income remained, laughably, far less than that of Russia’s “prime minister” Vladimir Putin. Two years ago Medvedev’s wife had 50% more than that in her own bank account. Now, she has nothing. When asked what happened to the money by a Russian financial newspaper, the Kremlin refused to say. In a recent survey, over 75% of Russian respondents said that Medvedev, like all Russian officials, was lying when he reported his income last year.
The End of the Russian Internet
The Russian wire service RBK Daily broke a rather sensational story last week: The Putin regime is going into the search engine business. Foreign Policy’s Evgeny Morozov writes that Kremlin functionary Igor Ashmanov declared on Echo of Moscow radio that since Google is nothing more than a pawn of the U.S. government, there is no reason why the Kremlin should not have its own. Morozov continues:
According to RBK’s anonymous sources inside Kremlin, it would aim at satisfying “state-oriented” needs such as “facilitating access to safe information” and “filtering web-sites that feature banned content.” It’s going to be an ambitious project: the government is prepared to invest $100 million in this new venture, does not want to allow any foreign funding, and intends to build it in cooperation with the private sector.
So much for the notion that the Russian Kremlin cannot affect control over the Russian Internet and/or has no intention of doing so. Once the Kremlin has it’s own search engine in place, it can simply remove all the others from the net.
The Fall of Yandex
We’ve repeatedly exposed the absurd neo-Soviet lie that Russia has a viable Internet society. In fact, virtually nobody in Russia has the means to access the Internet, and those who manage to get there find only a ravaged wasteland of neo-Soviet terror and repression. But the Kremlin is still not satisfied, and now it has moved against the Yandex search engine, Russia’s Google, forcing it to shut down one of its most powerful features, its blog traffic ranking.
This wonderful feature gave bloggers the power to generate national attention when they reported important news, and generate it at the grass-roots level through the democracy of simply counting web hits (in the words of one leading Russian blogger “the ranking is created by a robot on the basis of objective parameters”). It gave bloggers the ability to turn a wave of opposition into a tsunami, and so of course the Kremlin simply could not tolerate it.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Russia’s most prominent Web player, Yandex NV, is in discussions to give a state company veto power over changes in its ownership while ensuring independence in other areas, amid growing Kremlin calls for more control over major local Internet companies.