Russia may remove itself from the global Internet to protect itself against perceived threats from the West, a Kremlin spokesman suggested on Friday.
The Krelmin dismissed accusations it aims to isolate the Russian Internet, and insists it is merely concerned with protecting its national security – particularly as relations with the West have reached their lowest since the Cold War.
However, the country has recently passed several laws targeting Internet use, which include making popular bloggers register as media outlets, and forcing websites to store the personal data of Russian users.
Earlier on Friday, influential business daily Vedomosti reported that global Internet logistics would be the core subject of Putin's Security Council meeting next week.
At Monday’s meeting, Putin is expected to discuss a contingency plans to disconnect Russian citizens from the web in the event of “an emergency” Vedomosti reported, according to the Guardian.
Potential proposals could also see the state bring the .ru domain under state control.
If implemented, the proposals would give the government control over ordinary Russian internet users and expose their habits online.
According to the Russian newspaper, the laws could be introduced in early 2015.
The moves come as Russia attempts to reduce its use of American technology, fearing that its communications are vulnerable to US spying. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin called the web a “CIA special project”.
"It is common knowledge who the main administrator of the global Internet is," the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Friday, in what seemed to be a comment directed at the West.
"And due to their unpredictability, we should think of ensuring our national security."
While he did not specify what the possible threats from the West were, Peskov added: "Of course, it is in no way possible that Russia could be unplugged from the global Internet, or that it is readying or considering such a possibility," he said.
Prominent Internet blogger and Kremlin critic Anton Nossik said that by citing Western threats, the authorities appeared to be considering ways to put all incoming and outgoing data under strict control.
Regarding the meeting, Nossik wrote on his Facebook page: "there comes a moment to discuss the complete unplugging of Russia from the global Internet, so that no bytes would come here from abroad."
Since returning to the presidency in 2012, Putin has embraced a conservative attitude – moving himself towards the Orthodox church and courting an electorate who increasingly see the West as a declining power.
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content