Medvedev points Facebook's Zuckerberg towards Russian IT sector

GORKI, Russia (Reuters) - Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev told Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday that Russia’s IT industry was as promising an area for investment as its natural resources sectors.

“You probably know that here in Russia we have not only oil, gas, gold and diamonds - there is also an IT industry,” a smiling Medvedev told Zuckerberg.

Communication Minister Nikolai Nikoforov, who also attended the meeting, said a plan for a Facebook research centre in Russia was discussed.

Russian IT firms such as Internet search engine Yandex, which launched its own browser on Monday, and anti-virus software maker Kaspersky Lab have become global success stories.

Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page that the conversation with Medvedev in his country residence outside Moscow had been “good” and posted a photo of himself in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square.

Sources told Reuters that Zuckerberg would not meet Russia’s richest man, Alisher Usmanov, who invested heavily in Facebook in 2009 and this year made $1 billion selling his shares.

Zuckerberg, who was making his first visit to Russia after a programmer there won Facebook’s Hacker Cup competition, gave Medvedev a T-shirt with a print of his Facebook address.

iPad-toting Medvedev and his entourage of young IT-savvy officials make a stark contrast with President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle of former KGB spies who do not have accounts on social networks and shy away from modern gadgets.

Research published last week by former Kremlin official Konstantin Kostin said five of the 20 most popular websites in Russia, including Facebook, had U.S. owners and their share was growing, which posed a threat to national security.

Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said Zuckerberg, who wore a black suit and tie for the meeting, told the prime minister that when he created Facebook with his university friends he did not think it could influence politics.

Reporting by Gleb Bryanski and Darya Korsunskaya; Editing by Robert Woodward