Online guide to the Russian tech market
Home News Nadia Amroon

Move over Yandex - the Kremlin's making its own search engine

0 26 April 2014

The Russian government is to get its own search engine. State telecoms company Rostelecom is planning to launch the new service, called Sputnik, within a matter of weeks.

The announcement comes in the same week that President Putin described the internet as a special project of the CIA, and claimed that Yandex, which has more than 50% of the search market in Russia (compared to Google’s 26.6%) was “pressured” into having so many Americans and so many Europeans in their governing bodies. 

Yandex responded to the President’s paranoia by pointing out that the participation of international investors is normal for a tech startup and that, as a public company with a 70 percent free float, it is not being pressured by any of its shareholders. Yandex also reminded Putin that Russia is one of the few countries where local Internet companies are stronger than global ones, hinting that if the Internet was indeed a CIA project, it was not working particularly well in Russia.

However, this failed to allay the concerns of the stock market, where Yandex’s share price fell sharply

In this context, it is easy to see why the government thinks that the country needs a state-sponsored search engine. 

Sputnik first came to the public’s attention in October of last year, when it became clear that Rostelecom was actively trying to attract developers from Yandex, Group, Google and other major internet companies to work on the project. 

While top developers do not come cheap, Alexander Basov, Rostelecom’s vice-president and head of the Sputnik project, pointed out that spending on the service will work out as less than the estimated value of Russian startup Get Taxi ($42 million), which he seems to think guarantees value for money. 

The service is expected to be made the default search engine in all state establishments, allowing it to quickly gain a significant market share. 

The idea of a state search engine is not a new one. After the 2008 war in Georgia Ilya Ponomarev, an deputy in the National Parliament, told Vedomosti that information in leading news-search engines during the war differed from the state’s official account of the conflict. At this point the government realised the importance of search engines as a media resource and discussions began regarding the creation of a state-sponsored news aggregator.

The idea appeared again in 2010, but officials were perhaps put off by the $100 million estimated cost of creating a viable service. 

Source: Vedomosti

Upper image via Shutterstock

More on the topic

comments powered by Disqus


via social network

Linked in