Vladimir Putin’s new internet adviser has suggested an imposition of higher taxes on US-based technology companies Google and Apple, as well as a ban on Microsoft Windows from all Russian government computers.
German Klimenko, who was recently instated as what some are calling Russia’s “Internet Czar,” voiced his plans in an interview and stated that he planned to introduce an 18% VAT tax on apps purchased through the American companies in order to push the population to use Russian alternatives.
“When you buy an app from Google Play or the App Store anywhere in Europe, VAT is charged at the place of payment, but not here in our banana republic,” expressed Klimenko in the interview. “We are breeding the cow and they are milking it”.
Klimenko also criticised Google’s refusal to respond to Russian law enforcement requests, despite responding to 32,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement a year. “We have to consider this as a kind of potential threat to our national security,” said Klimenko.
Russia has faced a lot of controversy in the past for their authoritarian and anti-Western Internet and technology policies. Since being in power, Putin has signed a law allowing state authorities to shut down websites that could be deemed as “extremist,” and the Russian president even previously declared the Internet to be a “CIA project.”
In 2014, the Kremlin also blocked four opposition websites, including the anti-communist Radio Liberty, and passed a bill forcing all bloggers with over 3,000 views a day to register with the government in order to crackdown on dissidents.
“The way it’s done in North Korea or China with its firewall probably doesn’t fit us, but it’s only a matter of time,” continued Klimenko on the topic of post-Cold War digital relations. “It won’t be fatal if Google leaves Russia — Yandex and Mail.ru have similar technologies.”
Charlie Nash is a libertarian writer, memeologist, and child prodigy. When he is not writing, he can usually be found chilling at the Korova Milk Bar, mingling with the infamous. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrNashington.