This week, the pressure on search engines in Russia increased; Kazakhstan got new standards for data processing centers and cloud services; Kyrgyzstan switched to electronic VAT processing; Uzbek government announced its plans to expand mobile network.

1. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov admitted that Russian government agencies will not be able to replace foreign software in use until domestic analogues are developed. Earlier this week, American TV channel NBC reported that Russia had been replacing Microsoft software and other foreign products with local software in all public offices and state companies.

Since the beginning of 2016, government offices could only purchase foreign software provided that there were no Russian options with similar technical capacity and efficiency. Ministry of Communication has drafted a bill to include tech solutions developed by IT companies from member-states of the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) in the Russian software registry. The draft bill is to be reviewed in State Duma on Nov. 15.

2. As part of finalizing details for the e-government platform Kazakh National Holding “Zerde” approved national standards for data processing centers СТ РК TIA-942-A, compatible cloud services СТ РК DSP-IS 0101_1.0.0, and cloud management architecture СТ РК DSP-IS 0102_1.0.0. New rules will come into effect as of Jan. 1, 2017.

3. Russia’s Central Bank to open a research center that will focus on development of new hi-tech solutions for prevention of and protection against cyber attacks. New laboratory is being built on the premises of Center for monitoring and response to computer attacks in financial sector, in close cooperation with law enforcement agencies and leading financial institutions in the country. Its responsibilities will include data recovery after cyber attacks, analysis of fraudulent mobile apps and websites, examination of ATM and POS-terminal cyber attacks, as well as working out practical recommendations on cyber attacks prevention.

4. In Belarus, the estimated net worth of website development market is $100 million, with a whopping 90% of transactions conducted in ‘shadows’. It is said that due to the economic crisis companies prefer either to build a website themselves using available CMS platforms, or to pay a developer cash-in-hand dodging the taxes.

DR comments: There are a few factors that keep Belarusian web developers from going legal. For example, the drop in demand on developers’ services and their falling behind the world tech trends. However, experts predict that to survive some small web studios would have to evolve into digital companies offering a wider range of services.

5. On Nov. 7, the Kyrgyz State Fiscal Service goes paperless by switching to electronic value-added tax invoices. The objective is to optimize the process, cut costs, and advance the use of electronic technical work documents (eTWD) system. The tax regulator spent KGS 3.8 million ($55.2 thousand) on paper invoices annually.

6. Yandex and protested against the initiatives of Russian Media-Communication Union to tighten control over messengers and online video streaming services. The union drafted a bill to amend the laws “On communication” and “On information”, proposing to ban foreigners from owning more than 20% shares in online video streaming service and to oblige messengers to identify the users.

In his interview to RBC-Russia, head of the union, Pavel Stepanov, clarified that the changes are necessary for the protection of national content, competition between market players and tightening of information security. Yandex and sent an official letter to the minister of communication Nikolay Nikiforov expressing their concerns that the changes might negatively affect the quality of services and lead to exodus of foreign investors from the market.

7. Association of cinema and television producers of Russia sent an appeal to the Ministry of Culture proposing to require search engines to remove links to pirate content. Copyright holders reckon that search engines should be liable for copyright law violations.

8. Uzbek government set a goal to provide 90% of its population with mobile network by 2019. At the moment, less than two-thirds of Uzbek citizens have access to mobile service. Some of the priority government projects for the next three years are expansion of mobile network and development of fiber-optic infrastructure.

9. According to the head of ISOC in Kyrgyzstan Talant Sultanov, internet speed in Kyrgyzstan is four times lower than the minimal speed rate. 2.5 Mbps is one of the lowest rates in CIS region, which certainly affects the economic development of the country.

DR comments: Kyrgyzstan being a landlocked country remains highly dependent on purchasing bandwidth from Russia and Kazakhstan. Interestingly, despite high fees on internet, its penetration has been growing steadily over the past few years to 36.2% in 2016, according to BuddeComm independent research.