July 01, 2014

Note Book

The government has launched a state-owned search engine, Sputnik, that is being lauded as the “safe” alternative to search engines like Google or Yandex – companies Vladimir Putin recently criticized publicly, stopping just short of accusing them of serving the CIA.

Sputnik was developed by the state telecom giant Rostelecom, Russia’s largest fixed-line internet provider. Sputnik.Ru has a shortcut to government services on its front page, such as registration of marriages or cars, as well as a special page for finding drugs in the nearest drugstore. While many critics said that the engine was created to filter out critical information, a test by The Moscow Times comparing it with the search engine giants concluded that “it does not seem that Sputnik is filtering news searches. It is simply doing a terrible job of finding information on the internet.”

A new law has been adopted cracking down on individuals with multiple citizenships. It requires those with a second, third, or fourth passport, or even just a permanent residency abroad, to write to State Migration Services in order to be entered in a database of such persons. Those who fail to notify the authorities could be subject to a criminal investigation; conviction could entail a fine of up to R200,000 ($5,900) or 400 hours of community service.

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