Russia Will Spend More On Army And Cops, Less On Digital Economy
Russian news outlet Vedomosti has published an article with the country’s new budget stats. It appears the government has slashed funding for the domestic digital economy. In favor of what, though? The usual suspects: the army, the police, and and government officials. Likewise, an in-progress ”digital economy” development program will receive three times less money than was previously planned.
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Digitalization Projects Get the Short End of the Stick
Igor Shuvalov, a former Russian Prime Minister, previously claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was very excited with the ”Digital Economy Evolvement Plan” that started back in 2017.
However, this year’s government budget puts correctives to the national digitalization program. Now, the plan will proceed with only one third of its originally promised money. Indeed, according to RBK, a sum as high as 3.5 trillion rubles was previously in discussion among Russia’s top officials.
With the slash down, the new allotment for the domestic digitalization project will be 1.2 trillion rubles until 2024. This is orders of magnitude less money than government officials, police officers, and soldiers will collectively consume in the country during the period. Simultaneously, the Russian government is flexing harder on Internet use and imposing restrictions on cryptocurrencies, anonymizing equipment, VPN services, and atheistic, creative, and science-centric ideologies.
Interestingly, the budget will spend 233 billion rubles on ”surveillance-controlling activity” and for ”IT-education for bureaucrats.” At the same time, only 18 billion rubles have been slotted for InfoSec, civil cyber defense projects, and the like.
The Grand Surveillance Party
An interesting and relevant quote comes by way of Deputy Prime Minister, Maksim Akimov, who recently seemed to side-swipe tech innovations like blockchain in favor of controlling tech innovations:
”Digital economy is about data and people. Its not only about the IT. And it’s not about financial technology. Many think that the digital economy equals blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and such. It’s not like that, its about different things. It’s about how a mechanism of collecting, sorting, and transmitting the data changes our usual thoughts about how business models work, about the everyday life of ordinary people, how this brings new things into the peoples lives.”
As we see, the Deputy Prime Minister thinks ”digital economy” has little to do with bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrency.
He also unironically noted that the ongoing regulatory work around Russia’s “digital economy” will be devoted less to economy and more to reducing the Russian people’s ability to protect the independence and privacy of their online activity. This dynamic reflects another Russian law currently in development that would allow all Russian private companies to collect, store, use, or sell clients’ private data without warning.
Will Russian government decrease the digital economy financing even more over time? Drop us a few lines with your thoughts in the comments below.
Images by Jeff Fawkes, Vedomosti