MOSCOW, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s deputy blamed Google Inc (GOOG.O) in an interview published on Tuesday for stirring up trouble in the revolution that ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
“Look what they have done in Egypt, those highly-placed managers of Google, what manipulations of the energy of the people took place there,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told the Wall Street Journal.
Such strong comment from one of Putin’s most trusted deputies is a clear signal of growing concern among Russian hardliners about the role of the Internet in the unrest which has swept across the Arab world.
Sechin gave no further details on his concerns. Google executive, Wael Ghonim, became an unlikely hero of the uprising in Egypt which led to Mubarak’s deposition.
In contrast to state television, Russia’s Internet is remarkably free and the home to often scathing criticism of Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev and the entire Russian elite.
Russia has so far resisted placing restrictions on the Internet, but analysts say there are a group of hardliners close to Putin who would like to impose controls similar to China’s.
Chinese President Hu Jintao called on Saturday for stricter government management of the Internet and warned top Communist Party leaders that China was facing deepening social conflicts that would test the party’s ability to maintain firm control. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Louise Ireland)