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Putin tells Russia's tech sector: Ditch foreign software or lose out

  • Putin said that, in some spheres, state institutions could not work with companies running foreign software because that represented a risk for national cyber-security.
  • Russian state institutions have been gradually switching to using domestic technology as part of a Kremlin drive to cut imports.
Source: NBC News

Russian technology companies will lose out on state orders unless they switch to using home-grown software, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying on Friday.

Putin said that, in some spheres, state institutions could not work with companies running foreign software because that represented a risk for national cyber-security.

"In terms of security, there are things that are critically important for the state, for sustaining life in certain sectors and regions," Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling a meeting with Russian technology producers.

"And if you are going to bring in hardware and software in such quantities, then in certain areas the state will inevitably say to you: 'You know, we cannot buy that, because somewhere a button will be pressed and here everything will go down'," the agency quoted him as saying.
"So bear that in mind."

Russian state institutions have been gradually switching to using domestic technology as part of a Kremlin drive to cut imports. That drive accelerated after Western states imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014.

However, private firms in Russia still primarily use imported technology. Putin's officials have said that Russia needs to tighten up its cyber-security to protect it from attacks mounted by foreign intelligence agencies.

Several Western countries say that Russia is more aggressor than victim, pointing to allegations that the Russian state, via hacking and social media influence campaigns, tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election last year. Moscow denies those allegations.