​Russia leads Europe in internet users – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin.(RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)
Russia has the highest number of internet users in Europe and e-commerce makes up about 10 percent of the country’s GDP, said President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Russian internet startups.

"As to the number of Internet users, Russia surely ranks first in Europe, with 60 million using the service," Putin said at Friday’s presentation.

"This area of activity [Internet related business – Ed.] has gained huge momentum for our country; about 10 percent of GDP… this is a very solid figure,” he added.

Putin stressed the Russian Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF), created in 2013, "was not stillborn, but, on the contrary, actively developing.” IIDF has put in place 150 projects, which makes it the most successful in Europe, he added. The Fund controls business worth more than $100 million (6 billion rubles).

The creation of IIDF was initiated by President Putin in November 2012, and in July 2013 it began to work. The Fund is responsible for providing expert and financial support for internet startups, working with venture capitalists, developing the legal framework of internet entrepreneurship and venture capital investment in Russia.

Putin says internet entrepreneurs should be more actively involved in providing security for defense organizations, such as Roscosmos and Rosatom, as the country's defense industry receives "serious funds" estimated at some 20 trillion rubles ($347 billion) and up to 3 trillion rubles is envisaged for re-equipment of the armed forces.

The president talked about a recent meeting with young scientists "who have achieved brilliant results in the defense sphere," and that internet entrepreneurs should also cooperate closely with them.

"This defense sector which receives great funds needs to have access to civilian business. This gives a remarkable synergistic effect when all this is functioning together," he said.