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Earlier this week Russian president Vladimir Putin said that, while new technologies such as Uber or Alibaba should not be demonized, they may still threaten the traditional economy in the future.

“I believe that [new] business models are not a threat to existing ones. They represent a new way of organizing things which businesses consider as being more effective and necessary. They should not be accused of undermining activities — they just apply up-to-date methods,” the business daily Vedomosti quoted the president as saying this Wednesday at a meeting of the presidential committee for science and education.

“But, objectively, they do represent a threat,” the President added.

Dmitry Peskov, director of department at the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI, launched by Vladimir Putin in 2011), had harsher words for global tech giants.

These “disruptive technologies pose a threat to Russian companies,” he said, citing Uber and Alibaba as examples.

Alibaba has grown to a company with a total of $1 billion daily transactions, while Uber has become the owner of a big share of the taxi market in a mere few years, Peskov underlined.

Such companies “are taking away our profit. The capitalization of Uber can be compared with that of [Russian oil giant] Rosneft.”

“This is a serious, fundamental threat, [which requires a strategic response in terms of a] national technology initiative,” added Peskov.

The Russian authorities’ perception of new technologies as sources of threats or opportunities has not been constant over the past years.

In the field of cryptocurrencies, for example, the finance ministry initially intended to ban bitcoin. But last month Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev stated that the spread of bitcoin in Russia does not represent any threat to the country’s financial ecosystem, at its current rate of adoption. As a consequence, the plan to ban the cryptocurrency is now paused.

This post first appeared on East-West Digital News


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