The Russian government is looking to ban Microsoft’s Windows, increase taxes on foreign technology companies, nudge Google out of the country, develop its homegrown operating system, encourage local tech companies to grow and keep a watchful on the internet, which is, after all, “a CIA project”.
We’ll forgive you for thinking some of that sounds a bit farfetched, but we can assure you that all those working points are real and come directly from Russian President Vladimir Putin and his new digital and internet tsar, German Klimenko. In a recent interview, the government official expressed his dissatisfaction with foreign technology companies that supposedly never pay any taxes to the state, unlike local companies.
Klimenko is pushing for a new law that would see foreign companies like Apple and Google pay an 18% value added tax (VAT) on apps and services sold online. He explained:
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.
But that’s not all that Klimenko wants to accomplish. In an even more ambitious goal, he wants to ban Microsoft’s Windows operating system from government PCs, and replace it with a Linux-based alternative developed locally. According to him, it’s “inevitable” that Russia will make the switch, with 22,000 municipal governments supposedly ready to make this move right now.
This isn’t the first time that Russia has wanted to get rid of Windows from its government machines. A year and a half ago the country’s government railed against Windows after Microsoft complied with the US and EU’s sanctions against Russia, after the country decided to annex part of another sovereign state. But so far, the government hasn’t been able to make this switch, though that may change soon.
Among its concerns regarding Windows, the Russian government cites security flaws and the company’s willingness to cooperate with US authorities, a fact deemed to be counter to the country’s national interests.
In recent years, Russia has taken numerous steps in hampering the widespread use of foreign technology products in the country, as well as controlling the internet and those that may spread “extremist” ideas online.