The creation of a national search engine is an issue of national culture and identity, Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.
"It is not an issue of national prestige, it is an issue of identity...in the long run it is an issue of culture rather than of state independence or something like that," Medvedev said at a meeting with members of the Public Chamber, a state-appointed consultative body that advises the government on civic issues.
Despite the fact that the RuNet has no shortage of search options, including the Russian-language Yandex, the idea to develop a national search engine has been circulated in Russia for quite a while.
Yandex dominates Russian search market with 63.5 percent of usage, but despite being founded by two Russian scientists it belongs to the Netherlands based company Yandex N.V. and the Russian government wants to have a major search engine that is not foreign-owned.
Furthermore, the new system must be focused on the government's needs and provide access to secured information while blocking prohibited content.
Russian media have speculated that the Communication Ministry was developing such an engine under a $100 million project dubbed Kremlyandex. The ministry denied these rumors.
Critics believe that the new engine might be simply an instrument of censorship while promoting pro-government content and reducing the visibility of oppositional websites.