Facebook founder mulls Russian research center

MOSCOW -- A Russian official says Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg is being encouraged to expand its operation in Russia.

Russia's communications minister tweeted that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev persuaded the social media giant's founder Monday to abandon plans to lure away Russian programmers and instead open a research center in Moscow.

Zuckerberg, who ditched his trademark hoodie and jeans for a suit and tie for his meeting with Medvedev, is visiting Russia as part of a world tour of programming contests to identify new talent.

Russian Web companies often command larger shares of the domestic market than U.S. counterparts. Facebook has roughly 9 million users in Russia. Domestic clone VK has around 34 million.

Medvedev has cultivated a tech-friendly image since launching his modernization program while president.