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Rostelecom to begin testing new ‘national’ search engine

Russian telecom operator Rostelecom is reportedly to begin beta-testing a new home-produced search engine, Sputnik.ru, that it plans to use to grow its business, complementing the launch with a range of content-rich services, including video.

The Russian presidential administration has previously indicated its support for the creation of a ‘national search engine’ for Russia, notably during the 2008 war with Georgia when then-president Dmitry Medvedev called for it.

Home-grown search engine Yandex is the current market leader in Russia, with a 62% market share against Google’s 27%.

Yandex last week announced first quarter revenues of RUB10.9 billion (€220 million), up 36% year-on-year and adjusted EBITDA of RUB4 billion, up 15%.

However, the search engine provider’s shares dipped significantly this week when Russian president Vladimir Putin criticised it for being registered in the Netherlands.

In a speech at a conference in St Petersburg, Putin also reportedly described the internet as “a CIA project”.

The Russian parliament passed a law this week requiring foreign social media sites operating in the country to base their servers in Russia and to store information on users for at least six months.