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29.04.2011

Medvedev vows not to restrict Internet

Russia will "make the right choice" on regulating the Internet, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, hinting that the government did not intend to impose Chinese-style bans on websites.

Unlike the Russian press and state-run TV channels, the rapidly growing Runet, or Russian Internet, has avoided government censorship and restrictions, turning it into forum for anti-government discussion.

"When people talk about Internet regulation, there is a feeling that the state wants to stick its hand in and create the kind of barriers that only exist in specific countries," Medvedev told a meeting of online media representatives.

"The president's task is to make the right decisions in terms of regulating public relations, including the Internet."

Three weeks ago, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) caused alarm among Russia's estimated 60 million Internet users by demanding access to Internet communication services like Gmail and Skype.

In a move reminiscent of Soviet style repression, the FSB claimed the "uncontrolled use of these services could lead to a large-scale threat to Russian security."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin dismissed fears of full-blown state regulation, saying that "it is not possible to restrict anything."

Medvedev also said on Friday that Russia may bring forward an initiative to protect intellectual property from internet piracy.