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Russia opening online public services


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Medvedev: Russians ready for introduction of online public services

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday many Russians were ready to receive online electronic public services. The Russian government aims to create an electronic public service system, intended to help fight corruption and red tape among regional officials.

“Perhaps [Russia is] less [prepared] than other European states, but we know that tens of millions of our citizens regularly use the Internet. They make a significant part of the population… If they use the Internet, then they are ready to receive such [online] services,” he said.

According to a report on Internet World Stats, Russia has the world’s eighth largest population of Internet users of over 45 million, or 32.3 % of the country’s total population.

The Russian president admitted that the introduction of a virtual government in Russia is “a separate issue, which requires attention. It is a kind of revolution in the way people think,” he said.

Medvedev, who portrays himself as a young and technologically savvy leader, made the development of science and technologies one of his top priorities.

He approved the initiative of creating a state e-mail service last year. The service, expected to be launched by the end of 2010, will provide Russians with the opportunity to apply for various documents and receive them by e-mail, without having to stand in long lines.

Today there are more than 1.8 billion Internet users in the world. In technologically advanced European and North American countries, the penetration of the population is generally between 75 and 90 %, which obviously represents market saturation. Thus, the number of Internet users in Russia is likely to be doubled within a few years.

The number of mobile subscribers in Russia is still increasing, and has nowadays reached 200 million. A significant part of new mobile phones on the market are already Internet connected, having web browsing capabilities and ready-made interfaces to chat programs, Facebook and Twitter.

These numbers show that Internet, also in Russia, will take over positions of printed and broadcasting media. The conventional media outlets are already under fairly strict governmental control, and different attempts to curb also Internet are on their way.

Mikael Storsjö


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