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Vladimir Kozlov

Moskva, Russia
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About Vladimir
For over 20 years I was an English-language journalist based in Moscow. Following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, I left Russia. However, I continue to closely monitor developments in Russia (and my homeland, Belarus), contributing articles on Russia-related topics. My focus lies particularly on culture/arts, sports, and technology, although I've covered other subjects, as well. Additionally, I am an independent film director and published author. Explore my work at www.vladimir-kozlov.com.
English Russian
Technology Arts & Books Film & Theatre

Blood on the Asphalt

04 Mar 2024  |  Transitions
A book titled 'A Lad’s Word' about the street gangs of Kazan during the late 1980s and early 1990s inspired a hit Russian TV show and raises questions about Russia’s economic transition. The book, which includes first-person recollections from former gang members, contrasts with Svetlana Stephenson's academic research in 'The Gangs of Russia'. The author, Garayev, a former gang member himself, adds his memories to the narrative. The book explores various aspects of gang life, including their structure, rituals, and interactions with authorities. It also discusses the transformation of youth gangs into criminal enterprises during the 1990s and the subsequent police crackdown. The TV series based on the book, subtitled 'Blood on the Asphalt', has been popular with young viewers but criticized for potentially romanticizing criminality. The article suggests that the legacy of the street gangs and the criminal code of that era persist in contemporary Russia.

Yandex N.V. to reinvent itself after leaving Russia

27 Feb 2024  |  www.intellinews.com
Yandex N.V., the Dutch parent company of Russia's Yandex, is selling its Russian assets for $5.2 billion and will rebrand and refocus as a global AI technology company. The sale includes a complete disconnection from Russia, with no operations, investments, or employees remaining in the country. Yandex N.V. aims to become a leading European developer of AI services and solutions, with a focus on self-driving cars, AI cloud computing, machine learning, and ed-tech. The company has a team of about 1,300 employees, with plans to establish a significant presence in Amsterdam and R&D hubs in Israel, Europe, the UK, and the US. Projects like Nebius AI, Toloka AI, Avride, and TripleTen are central to Yandex N.V.'s strategy. The company's shareholders are mainly from the US, UK, and Europe, and it plans to distribute proceeds from the Russian asset sale among them and invest in its operations. The new owners of Yandex's Russian assets include Lukoil and several other companies.

Russia sets hopes on supercomputers

25 Jan 2024  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia is aiming to enhance its supercomputer capabilities, as indicated by President Vladimir Putin's directive to increase computing power. Despite having seven supercomputers in the global Top 500, Russia lags behind the US and China. The quasi-governmental Digital Economy organization has proposed building 10 new supercomputers by 2030. However, US sanctions on chip exports from Nvidia and AMD, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, pose significant challenges to this ambition. The cost of such an endeavor is estimated at $6bn, and while a national project for tech-based economic development could provide funding, past inefficiencies and current military expenditures complicate the situation.

Unsymmetrical Pd(II) Pincer Complexes with Benzothiazole and Thiocarbamate Flanking Units: Expedient Solvent-Free Synthesis and Anticancer Potential

10 Dec 2023  |  mdpi.com
A study focused on developing new chemotherapeutic agents against cancer, utilizing unsymmetrical pincer ligands combining benzothiazole and thiocarbamate donor groups. These compounds underwent direct cyclopalladation, resulting in S,C,N-type Pd(II) pincer complexes, characterized by various spectroscopic methods. The solvent-free synthesis approach was efficient and environmentally friendly. The palladacycles demonstrated significant cytotoxicity against several cancer cell lines, with the dimethylamino-substituted derivative showing high effectiveness and inducing apoptosis in both parental and doxorubicin-resistant cells, suggesting the potential of these palladacycles as anticancer agents.

Hit-Boy’s Surf Club Collective Partners With EMPIRE Publishing

05 Oct 2023  |  Billboard
EMPIRE Publishing has entered a joint venture with Surf Club, a collective founded by producer Hit-Boy. The partnership includes signing three new artists: Gary “G Dav” Davis, Jesse “Dr. Blum” Blum, and Randy “Bandz” Holmes. EMPIRE will provide publishing administrative services and help Surf Club identify new talent. The collaboration aims to create outstanding music and push the culture forward, reflecting EMPIRE's ethos of enabling independent artist success.

Acraze Signs to Capitol Records In Partnership With Thrive Music

01 Oct 2023  |  Billboard
Florida-based producer ACRAZE, known for his hit remix 'Do It To It,' has signed with Capitol Records in partnership with Thrive Music. The track has achieved significant success, including 120 million on-demand streams in the U.S. and 8.4 billion global streams. ACRAZE, born Charlie Duncker, has performed at major festivals and is set for upcoming shows. Thrive Music, founded by Ricardo Vinas, and Capitol Records express enthusiasm about the collaboration and future projects.

Russian IT firms face significant obstacles to take the place of foreign software

01 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Since the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions, Russia has been pushing to replace foreign software with local solutions, presenting both opportunities and challenges for the Russian IT industry. Companies like 1C are benefiting from the exit of global firms like SAP, but others like Luxoft have relocated. The industry faces significant hurdles, including investment needs, technology issues, and a brain drain of IT professionals. The Russian government is using a mix of incentives and regulations to support local software development, but progress is slow, and the timeline for full import substitution remains uncertain.

Russian Rock Band Picnic Returns to Stage After Moscow Terrorist Attack, Remains Apolitical as Pro-Kremlin Media Blames Ukraine

27 Mar 2023  |  www.billboard.com
Russian rock band Picnic, known for their apolitical stance, is returning to the stage after their concert at Moscow's Crocus City Hall was targeted in a mass shooting by ISIS-K, resulting in at least 137 deaths. The band's frontman, Edmund Shklyarsky, expressed condolences but refrained from political commentary. Picnic's upcoming concert in St. Petersburg will be dedicated to the victims, with proceeds going to their families. Despite the tragedy, the band has seen a surge in U.S. on-demand streams. Picnic's history includes navigating the Soviet Union's scrutiny of rock music and maintaining a diverse fan base.

‘The Garden Has to Defend Itself’: MSG Chief James Dolan Hits Back at Facial Recognition Criticism

02 Feb 2023  |  Billboard
James Dolan, CEO of Madison Square Garden Entertainment, defended the use of facial recognition technology to bar entry to certain individuals and threatened to halt alcohol sales in response to lawmakers' scrutiny. Dolan argued that the policy is necessary for the venue's self-defense, while New York State Attorney General Letitia James and other lawmakers raised concerns about potential discrimination and retaliation. The New York AG's office has requested MSG to justify their policy by February 13.

Belarus Legalizes Piracy, Setting a Precedent That Could Encourage Global Piracy Networks

26 Jan 2023  |  Billboard
Belarus has passed a law that allows the use of copyrighted music and audiovisual content from 'unfriendly countries' without the need for permission from rights holders. This move comes after Western sanctions were imposed on Belarus due to political repression and its support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The law could potentially encourage global piracy, as Belarus might become a base for piracy networks. Music analyst Mark Mulligan from MIDiA Research and the IFPI have expressed concerns about the impact on the music industry and international copyright law. Russia, which has been considering a similar law, has followed Belarus's lead in the past. Both countries are signatories to the Berne Convention and WIPO treaties, and such laws would violate their international obligations.

Russian Streaming Service VK Allows Uploads of Major Label Albums Amid Sanctions

09 Dec 2022  |  Billboard
The article discusses the Russian streaming service VK, which has been found to allow uploads of albums from major record labels that left Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Despite its efforts to combat piracy in the past, VK is now hosting albums from artists like Taylor Swift and Red Hot Chili Peppers, which were released by labels such as Universal Music Group and Warner Records Music. The global labels body IFPI and the major labels Sony, Warner, and Universal have not commented on these copyright violations. The article also touches on the broader impact of Western sanctions on the Russian music market, including the withdrawal of major music providers and the potential for future regulation of intellectual property rights in Russia.

100 Weeks of the Billboard Global Charts: 20th Century Hits in the ’20s

13 Aug 2022  |  www.billboard.com
The Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts have reached their 100-week milestone, showcasing the enduring popularity of 20th-century hits in the 2020s. Notable chart runs include songs from the 1960s to the 1990s, with 'Monster Mash' and Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' representing the '60s. The '70s saw Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' achieve significant chart success. The '80s were marked by high activity, with Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' reaching No. 1 following its feature in Netflix's 'Stranger Things.' The '90s introduced genre diversity with hip-hop classics like Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise' and DMX's 'Ruff Ryders Anthem' charting posthumously. The article also notes the impact of the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show on the charts.

Julian Casablancas Sells Stake of Strokes Catalog to Primary Wave

06 Jun 2022  |  Billboard
Julian Casablancas, frontman of The Strokes, has sold a portion of his share of publishing and a full share of master ownership for the band's catalog to Primary Wave Music. The deal includes major hits like 'Last Night' and 'Reptilia' but excludes Casablancas' solo works and his other band, The Voidz. Primary Wave will provide marketing, branding, licensing, and synch opportunities for Casablancas. This agreement follows a previous publishing pact with Concord Music Publishing. The Strokes have been a significant influence in rock music, with multiple top-charting albums and billions of streams.

Russian Cinemas Turn to Piracy Amid Sanctions Over Ukraine War

06 Jun 2022  |  Variety
Russian cinemas, facing international sanctions due to the war in Ukraine, have resorted to pirating Hollywood movies. Major western corporations, including Hollywood studios, ceased operations in Russia after the invasion began on February 24. Reports indicate illicit screenings of films like 'The Batman' and 'Sonic the Hedgehog 2' under different Russian titles. The practice of piracy, which had declined significantly since the 1990s, is re-emerging as theaters struggle with the withdrawal of Hollywood films and low attendance. Some theaters had pre-existing contracts and have opted to pay into escrow accounts, while others are hosting pirate screenings. The Russian Association of Cinema Owners (RACO) and the Russian Ministry of Culture are grappling with the situation, with some calling for the legalization of piracy and others seeking support for domestic film production. The future of Russian cinemas remains uncertain, with many at risk of closing and the legality of screening unlicensed films in question.

‘Patriotic’ Russian Musicians Are Cashing In on Putin-Backed Concerts

06 Jun 2022  |  billboard.com
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has polarized the local music scene, with pro-invasion artists profiting from government-sponsored 'patriotic' concerts, while anti-war musicians face censorship and legal repercussions. Notable artists like Pelageya and Denis Maidanov have received substantial fees for participating in such events. In contrast, musicians like Maxim Pokrovsky, Yevgeny Fedorov, Miron Fyodorov, and Yuri Shevchuk, who oppose the war, have either left Russia or canceled shows, with some facing legal challenges. The situation reflects the broader societal divide and the risks faced by those who speak out against the conflict.

Will 2022 be another record year for the Ethernet transceiver market?

08 Apr 2022  |  fierce-network.com
Ethernet optical transceiver sales hit a record $4.6 billion in 2021, a 25% increase from 2020. LightCounting forecasts a 14% CAGR from 2022 to 2027, with the market expected to reach $10 billion by the end of this period. Growth is driven by strong demand for 200 GbE and 400G transceivers, with significant contributions from tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Meta. Despite a projected slowdown in growth, the demand for higher bandwidth in data centers is anticipated to continue, with a conservative forecast considering current economic and geopolitical volatility. The article is authored by Vladimir Kozlov, founder and CEO of LightCounting, which provides market research in optical communications.

Ukrainian and Russian Artists Condemn Putin’s Invasion Of Ukraine

25 Feb 2022  |  Billboard
Ukrainian and Russian music artists, including Ivan Dorn, Svetlana Loboda, and Oxxxymiron, have publicly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian artists express emotional distress and call for an end to the aggression, while Russian artists share similar sentiments, with some canceling performances in protest. The Ukrainian label Masterskaya has cut ties with Russian artists, emphasizing the widespread opposition to the invasion within the music community.

Microsoft's Russian office downsizes

18 Jun 2021  |  intellinews.com
Microsoft's Russian office has been downsizing due to a shift to cloud technology, a push for local software use, and declining revenue. Staff numbers have dropped from about 1,000 in 2014 to approximately 300, with further reductions expected. The Russian government's policy of import substitution, mandating public sector organizations to use locally manufactured software, has impacted sales. This has led to the closure of subsidiaries in several regions and a reduction in personnel. Microsoft's Russian revenue also fell from RUB 9.9 billion in 2016 to RUB 6.5 billion in 2020.

Ukraine slaps new taxes on foreign tech firms

01 Jun 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Ukraine has introduced new taxes for global tech giants like Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook, requiring them to pay a 20% value-added tax (VAT) for digital services provided to Ukrainian residents. This move aims to boost the country's struggling budget, potentially raising at least UAH3bn ($110mn) annually. The new tax law has sparked controversy, with concerns about higher costs for consumers and the potential withdrawal of tech services from Ukraine. The bill is similar to recent Russian legislation requiring foreign tech companies to register locally to collect revenue.

Google and Facebook under pressure in Russia

10 May 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Russian legislators are pushing for a draft law requiring foreign tech giants with significant local audiences to register subsidiaries in Russia, primarily targeting companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp. This move aims to make it easier for Russian authorities to enforce fines and regulations, as current efforts to collect fines from companies like Twitter and Facebook have been largely ineffective. The legislation could significantly impact the ad revenues of companies like Google and Facebook in Russia, while benefiting local competitors such as VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, and various online streaming services. Additionally, Google faces a substantial legal challenge over the blocking of a conservative Russian TV network's YouTube channel, with potential damages amounting to RUB94 trillion.

Russian Bank Sber Acquires Muzlab to Target Business Streaming Market

21 Apr 2021  |  Billboard
Russia's largest state-run bank, Sber, has acquired the local music streaming company Muzlab to merge with its service SberZvuk, aiming to expand its presence in the consumer and business streaming markets. The merger is expected to offer synergies and new opportunities for growth, with a larger library for business customers and enhanced playlist access for individual consumers. Muzlab, founded in 2016, is a significant player in Russia's B2B streaming segment, operating on a subscription model. The acquisition is part of Sber's strategy to establish itself as a major player in the competitive Russian music streaming market.

Kazakhtelecom to focus on content

12 Apr 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Kazakhtelecom, Kazakhstan's largest state-run telecom company, is shifting its focus towards content production as traditional telecom services become less profitable. CEO Kuanshibek Yesekeyev highlighted the company's strategy to develop an ecosystem centered on AI, video analysis, blockchain, finance, e-commerce, and security. The company has already launched a TV platform and aims to produce its own content, including cybersport content and TV series. Despite plans for privatization, the Kazakh government views Kazakhtelecom as a strategic asset, delaying any share sales until at least 2024.

Russian regulator finalises digital ruble plans

12 Apr 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia's central bank has finalized plans for the digital ruble, set to launch in 2022. The digital currency will be stored in central bank-issued digital wallets, with commercial banks facilitating access. Offline payments will require a separate wallet. The digital ruble, distinct from cryptocurrencies, will function as a digital form of fiat ruble. Commercial banks will act as intermediaries, and digital ruble transfers between individuals will be fee-free. The prototype is expected by December 2021, with legislative changes to follow in January 2022. A survey indicates mixed public interest in the digital ruble.

Rostec to be in charge of Russia's 5G scheme

15 Mar 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Rostec, Russia's state-controlled tech corporation, will lead a consortium of local equipment manufacturers for the country's 5G mobile communication scheme. The consortium aims to develop individual tech assignments for 5G network components. The rollout cost is projected to be significantly high, with varying estimates depending on whether operators collaborate or work individually. The government has yet to vacate the 4.8 – 4.99 GHz band, currently used by military satellite communications, which complicates the rollout. Analysts predict that substantial investments in 5G will be delayed, with significant revenues unlikely in the near future.

Russia’s Sber launches international AI contest for children

15 Feb 2021  |  ComputerWeekly.com
Sber, formerly Sberbank, has launched an international AI contest for schoolchildren in collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence Alliance, aiming to popularize AI among youth and support global talent. The contest, expected to attract 10,000 participants, features 10 categories including earth sensing data, edtech, and robotics. Sber's CEO Herman Gref and Marina Rakova, director of digital educational platforms, emphasize the importance of early AI education. The initiative aligns with Russia's national AI strategy and Sber's rebranding as a tech company. The contest will culminate in Moscow with a RUB1m prize for winners in each category.

Russia considers its “sovereign internet” options

11 Feb 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia is considering the implementation of a 'sovereign internet' which would involve disconnecting from the World Wide Web and establishing centralized state management of the internet within its borders. Former president Dmitry Medvedev confirmed the ongoing seriousness of this consideration. The legal framework for such a move was established in November 2019, but technical and practical challenges remain. The Russian government has been uneasy about global internet control since 2014, and recent efforts include installing equipment for filtering online traffic. However, the full execution of a sovereign internet is not yet feasible, and experts warn of the unavailability of global services in Russia if such a disconnection occurs.

How Pussy Riot Rushed to Release ‘RAGE’ Video to Support Putin Rival Alexei Navalny

01 Feb 2021  |  Billboard
Pussy Riot released their video 'RAGE' to support jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny amidst massive protests in Russia. The video, initially planned for later release, was expedited due to the urgency of the political climate. The shoot was disrupted by police, who detained several participants. The video aims to inspire continued protests against President Vladimir Putin's regime. Pussy Riot has a history of activism and close ties with Navalny, who survived a poisoning attempt allegedly by the FSB. The article highlights the group's resilience and the broader opposition movement in Russia.

Russia goes ahead with eSIM technology

25 Jan 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Russian mobile operators are exploring eSIM technology, which allows users to use services from multiple operators and is expected to replace physical SIM cards. The government plans to centralize eSIM user profile storage for better data protection, a task to be carried out by TsNIIS. Operators currently use various storage solutions, including foreign-developed ones, which the government views with concern. A central platform, managed by TsNIIS, would require all operators to use it, although the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media insists on an open tender for the platform operator. Operators argue that decentralized storage is more secure. VEON and Megafon tested eSIM in July 2020, and the technology is available on various smartphones and Apple watches. However, a proposed nationwide remote biometric identification system could complicate eSIM functionality, especially for non-Russian residents.

Russia goes ahead with eSIM technology

25 Jan 2021  |  bne.eu
Russian mobile operators are exploring eSIM technology, which allows the use of virtual SIM cards and services from multiple operators. The government plans to centralize eSIM user profile storage for better data protection, a task assigned to TsNIIS. This centralization contradicts the global IT trend towards decentralization and is seen as less secure by operators. The Ministry of Digital Development supports the idea but requires an open tender for the platform operator. VEON and Megafon tested eSIM in 2020, and the technology is available on various smartphones and Apple watches. However, a proposed nationwide biometric identification system could hinder eSIM's operability, especially for non-Russian residents.

Russia's retailer X5 Group posts 13% sales growth in 4Q20

25 Jan 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
X5 Group, Russia's largest retailer, reported a 13% year-on-year sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, with like-for-like sales up by 5%. Despite a modest 1.7% expansion in the food retail market in 2020, X5 leveraged COVID-19 related tailwinds and digital innovation to become the largest e-grocer in Russia. The company's digital business contributed significantly to its revenue, with Perekrestok Vprok's revenue increasing by 191.2% in 4Q20. BCS Global Markets has given a Buy rating to X5 shares.

Russia's NorNickel adopts blockchain for supply chain management

25 Jan 2021  |  www.intellinews.com
Norilsk Nickel (NorNickel), the world's largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel, has joined the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) to enhance its supply chain transparency and sustainability. The company plans to use blockchain technology to create a customer-centric supply chain, including metal-backed tokens on the Atomyze platform. The RSBN and Atomyze platforms leverage Hyperledger technology, developed with IBM's participation. NorNickel's supply chains will be audited annually by RCS Global against responsible sourcing requirements. The initiative aims to improve transparency and traceability in the mineral supply chain, aligning with OECD and industry standards.

CTO interview: David Rafalovsky, Sberbank Group

25 Jan 2021  |  ComputerWeekly.com
David Rafalovsky, CTO of Sberbank, discusses the bank's transformation into a tech company with a banking license, emphasizing significant investments in technology and AI. Sberbank has built its own digital platform and adopted agile methodologies, overcoming various challenges. The bank's AI initiatives include the K7M loan product and voice assistants, and it has partnered with Nvidia to build the Christofari supercomputer for AI model training.

The pandemic causes a spike in cyber

01 Dec 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in cyber-attacks on Russian companies, with the number of attacks doubling since early 2020. A study by Rostelecom's Solar JSOC division reported over 200 professionally executed cyber-attacks targeting critical infrastructure, particularly in sectors like banking, nuclear power, and healthcare. The majority of these attacks exploited zero-day vulnerabilities. Experts attribute the rise in cyber-attacks to the shift to remote work and the general digitalisation trend in Russia. Notably, a significant portion of these attacks originated from abroad, particularly the United States.

Russian police unveil $720mn AI-focused digitalisation scheme

30 Nov 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia's Interior Ministry has proposed a $720 million digital transformation program focusing on AI to enhance law enforcement operations. The initiative aims to use AI for identifying crime perpetrators through biological samples. Despite previous setbacks in digital transformation, the government hopes to replicate successful IT overhauls seen in other sectors. The program includes research and development starting in 2020, with software applications expected by 2023. The article also highlights the involvement of private companies in developing AI solutions and the challenges faced by the ministry in previous digital projects.

Sberbank's joint project with Mail.ru is in limbo

24 Nov 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Sberbank's partnership with Mail.ru Group is at risk due to management and cultural clashes, potentially leading to the dissolution of their $1.6bn joint venture. The venture aimed to combine ride-hailing and food delivery services but has faced disagreements over control and integration. Both Sberbank and Mail.ru have invested significantly, but the joint venture has not been profitable, with Delivery Club and Citymobil reporting substantial losses. The Russian government, owner of Sberbank, is reportedly dissatisfied with the bank's tech investments, and the Finance Ministry may take a stricter stance on such expenditures.

Russian Police Unveil $720mn AI

24 Nov 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia's Interior Ministry has proposed a RUB55bn digital transformation program emphasizing artificial intelligence to improve law enforcement operations. The initiative aims to develop AI solutions for identifying criminals from biological samples at crime scenes. The program follows successful digital overhauls in other sectors, such as tax collection and banking. Previous attempts at digital transformation within the ministry faced setbacks, including a failed platform development and subsequent investigations. Private Russian companies have been advancing AI for law enforcement, with some interest from foreign agencies. The digitalization of the Russian economy has been a priority, though the pandemic has impacted government spending and progress.

Russian IT companies push for tax privileges

20 Oct 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Russian IT companies are lobbying to be included in a tax privilege scheme to enhance competitiveness. Initially intended for software manufacturers, the scheme now includes telecom equipment manufacturers but excludes social media and search engines, which are also seeking inclusion. The Federation Council has proposed significant tax reductions for the IT industry. Despite efforts for import substitution, local telecom equipment manufacturers struggle against global competitors. The Russian Association of Electronic Communications is advocating for online companies to be included in the tax scheme, proposing various tax reductions for digital services.

Russian online giant Yandex mulls financial ecosystem investments

19 Oct 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Yandex, the Russian online giant, is exploring investments in the financial services sector and restructuring its marketplace business following its separation from state-run lender Sberbank. Yandex has applied for trademarks in banking, insurance, and investment, indicating its ambitions beyond its current online payment system, Yandex.Money. Experts suggest Yandex aims to build a financial ecosystem similar to Apple Pay and Amazon's marketplace. The company recently bought out Sberbank's stake in Yandex.Market and sold its stake in Yandex.Money to Sberbank. Yandex.Market, now integrated with Beru, will offer comprehensive e-commerce services. Potential partnerships with other lenders like VTB are also being considered.

Fire nearly destroys legendary Fischer ski factory in Ukraine

12 Oct 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
A fire severely damaged the Fischer ski factory in Mukachevo, Ukraine, which produces a significant portion of Europe's skis and snowboards. The blaze, which started pre-dawn on October 12, destroyed much of the production lines but spared the main warehouse. Over 100 firefighters were involved, and no injuries were reported. The factory, owned by Austria's Fischer Sports GmbH, has been a major player in the ski manufacturing industry since the 1980s. The extent of the damage is still being assessed, but the factory's operations have been crucial for both the local economy and the international ski market.

Fire nearly destroys legendary Fischer ski factory in Ukraine

12 Oct 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
A fire severely damaged the Fischer ski factory in Mukachevo, Ukraine, which produces a significant portion of Europe's skis and snowboards. The blaze, which started pre-dawn on October 12, destroyed much of the production facilities but spared the main warehouse. Over 100 firefighters were involved, and no injuries were reported. The factory, owned by Austria's Fischer Sports GmbH, has been a major player in the ski manufacturing industry since the 1980s. The extent of the damage is still being assessed, but the factory's output is crucial to the international ski market.

Russian Bank Relaunches Streaming Service As SberZvuk

28 Sep 2020  |  Billboard
Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has acquired the local music streaming service Zvuk, rebranding it as SberZvuk. This move is part of Sberbank’s strategy to transform into a tech company, offering a range of new products including SberBox and SberPortal. SberZvuk aims to compete with Apple Music, Spotify, and Yandex Music by leveraging Sberbank’s extensive customer base and ecosystem. The platform will feature a comprehensive audio content catalog and a proprietary recommendation system. Sberbank’s CEO, Michael Ilyichev, highlights the unique advantages of integrating SberZvuk with the bank’s other services, such as SberPay.

Belarus' IT workers exit the country

21 Sep 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
A brutal crackdown on Belarusian protesters following the rigged August 9 presidential election has led to a significant exodus of local IT companies and professionals. The IT sector, a rare success in Belarus' economy, is now facing severe challenges as authorities arrest IT workers and disrupt internet services. Many companies are relocating to Latvia, with others considering moves to Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland. The crackdown has also halted plans for a new IT university in Minsk. Companies like PandaDoc are facing direct repression, with employees arrested and operations disrupted.

Russia's national program for digital economy stumbles

28 Jul 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia's digital economy program is significantly behind schedule, with only one out of ten targets met for the second quarter. Key projects like 5G development face major hurdles due to disagreements over frequency bands between operators and law enforcement agencies. Other initiatives, such as a unified cloud platform for state services and a nationwide land registry, are also lagging. Funding issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic further threaten the program's progress. The only successful implementation so far is the concept for covering transport infrastructure with data transfer networks using GLONASS.

Madonna Claims She Was Fined $1 Million For Supporting Russia LGBTQ Rights

21 Jul 2020  |  Billboard
Madonna claims she was fined $1 million for supporting Russia's LGBTQ community during a 2012 concert in St. Petersburg, but a Russian court dismissed the lawsuit filed by conservative activists, and no fine was imposed. The concert featured Madonna advocating for LGBTQ rights, which led to a class-action lawsuit and further accusations from conservative legislator Vitaly Milonov. Despite the claims, no evidence was produced, and the court sided with Madonna and her promoters.

Privileges for Russia's IT industry could lead to higher software prices

17 Jul 2020  |  intellinews.com
The Russian government's extension of tax privileges to the local IT sector is expected to lead to higher software prices due to the planned reinstatement of value added tax (VAT) on software products. The National Plan for Economic Recovery includes measures to support the IT industry, such as reduced social security payments and profits tax rates. However, the reinstatement of VAT, proposed to offset budget losses from these tax privileges, could increase software prices by 16%. Industry representatives have expressed concerns that this could negate the benefits of the support measures and harm the competitiveness of Russian IT companies.

Privileges for Russia's IT industry could lead to higher software prices

17 Jul 2020  |  intellinews.com
The Russian government's extension of tax privileges to the local IT sector is expected to lead to higher software prices due to the planned reinstatement of value added tax (VAT) on software products. The VAT, proposed to be reintroduced by January 1, 2021, could increase software prices by 16%. President Vladimir Putin announced support measures for the IT industry, including tax cuts, in response to concerns about a potential brain drain. However, the reinstatement of VAT may negate the benefits of these measures, according to industry representatives. The 'Google tax' introduced in 2017, which applies to foreign companies, may now also affect Russian companies, potentially impacting their competitiveness and sales.

The pandemic gives a boost to Russia's online retail segment

17 Jul 2020  |  intellinews.com
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in Russia have significantly boosted the country's digital retail industry, with a notable increase in online shopping. The e-commerce client base in Russia grew by 37% and 11% in April and May 2020, respectively. Food retailers like Perekrestok and non-food retailers such as Tom Tailor reported higher sales and adjusted their business models to meet demand. Online pharmacies also saw increased sales, with regulatory changes facilitating delivery orders. However, the long-term strength of these online shopping trends remains uncertain, particularly for electronics and clothing.

Russia's IT segment looks at losses in Q2

25 May 2020  |  intellinews.com
The Russian IT sector anticipates significant losses in Q2 due to the COVID-19 crisis and is seeking government support. The communications ministry has backed a set of 15 measures proposed by industry players, including tax relief and deferred payments. Without support, the sector could see a RUB100bn revenue decline and the loss of 27,000 jobs in 2020. Investment is also expected to drop by 7% year-on-year in Q2. The industry's high loan burden could exacerbate the situation. The proposed support measures could prevent these negative outcomes and even create more jobs in 2021. However, the IT sector has not yet been included in the Duma's list of strategically important companies eligible for state support. The bailout could cost the state budget RUB198.7bn in 2020 and RUB68.1bn in 2021 but is expected to be beneficial in the long term.

Russia to dramatically hike fines for data theft

20 May 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
The Russian government plans to significantly increase fines for data theft in response to a surge in cybercrimes. The proposed changes would raise maximum fines for leaking private data from RUB50,000 to RUB500,000. Experts are divided on the proposal, with some arguing it is too harsh, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others believe the fines are insufficient to deter data theft. The proposal is expected to undergo public discussion and approval by other government agencies. Recent data breaches from major Russian companies highlight the urgency of addressing private data security.

Russia's Yandex.Taxi's IPO still on, as it struggles to stay profitable

15 May 2020  |  www.intellinews.com
Yandex.Taxi, the ride-hailing arm of Russian online giant Yandex, is proceeding with its IPO plans despite profitability challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CEO Tigran Khudaverdyan confirmed the IPO is still on the agenda, though not a priority under current restrictions. The company, which merged with Uber in 2017, has seen a significant drop in revenues and gross merchandise volume due to the pandemic. Despite these setbacks, Yandex.Taxi remains optimistic about posting a profit in 2020. The company has also negotiated leasing holidays for its partner taxi companies to mitigate the impact of the lockdown. Additionally, Yandex.Taxi has halted its acquisition of Vezet, a major regional taxi player, though it is unclear if this decision is related to the pandemic.

"Traces in the Snow" - a feature-length documentary on the Siberian punk rock scene in the 1980s

How Russians became the biggest, baddest hooligans at Euro 2016

15 Jun 2016  |  www.vice.com
Russian soccer fans gained notoriety for their violent behavior at Euro 2016, particularly during clashes with English fans in Marseille. The violence was attributed to well-organized, trained hooligan groups rather than regular fans. French authorities, focused on terror threats, were unprepared for the hooliganism, which is a relatively new phenomenon in Russia. Russian politicians' reactions ranged from dismissive to supportive of the fans' actions, with some using nationalist rhetoric. UEFA issued a 'suspended' ban to Russia, meaning further violence would lead to disqualification. The incidents occurred against a backdrop of tense Russia-West relations.

Russian Radio Is Trying to Silence Western Music

03 Nov 2015  |  www.vice.com
In Russia, a crackdown on Western music is underway, with two major FM radio stations playing foreign language artists facing closure and a proposed 25 percent quota for non-Russian lyrics on air. This reflects anti-Western sentiment following the annexation of Crimea and Western sanctions. Producer Vladimir Kiselyov suggested Western artists receive too much airplay and proposed turning the Russian Media Group into a 'patriotic media group' with state support. Communist legislator Ivan Nikitchuk proposed the foreign language quota, citing cultural protection in other countries, and the political climate suggests the proposal may pass.

The New Generation of Russian Indie Rock Is Finally Here

26 Jun 2015  |  www.vice.com
The Bol festival in Moscow showcased the latest wave of Russian indie rock, emphasizing bands that sing in Russian. The festival's promoter, Stepan Kazaryan, highlighted the originality and underground attitudes of these bands, which contrast with previous generations that often imitated Western acts. The new generation of Russian indie rockers, including bands like Sonic Death, Slackers, Super Besse, Vkhore, Jars, Lucidvox, and Srub, are characterized by their minimalist sound, diverse influences, and a departure from traditional rock lineups. This new wave reflects a blend of local and international inspirations, with a notable presence of artists from regions outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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