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Communications official says limits on foreign ownership in Russia's Internet industry would be a nightmare

Source: Interfax

Konstantin Noskov, Russia’s minister of digital development and mass communications, says he opposes draft legislation that would limit how much foreigners can own in “significant information resources.” He told the news agency Interfax that he only knows of the draft law from media reports, but he “categorically doesn’t support” it, arguing that the initiative is directed against Yandex and Mail.ru Group, which he says are “Russia’s national treasures.”

“These companies exist because the state didn’t turn the screws on them when it mattered. I’m confident that these screws don’t need to be turned today, either,” Nosikov explained, adding that Russia’s business community also opposes the initiative. He says the new restrictions, if adopted, could damage the market value of Yandex and Mail.ru Group, and crash the salaries and stock options paid to programmers at these companies, leading the most talented staff to find jobs abroad.

On July 26, lawmakers in the State Duma introduced draft legislation that would limit foreign ownership of “significant” information companies to 20 percent. The news led to a 4.6-percent fall in Yandex's shares on the Moscow Stock Exchange. Russian Internet companies have opposed the legislation.