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Sixty Million Russians Go Online Daily, New Report Shows

In 2014, Internet audience and penetration in Russia continued to grow. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

In 2014, Internet audience and penetration in Russia continued to grow. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

New audience research data compiled by RuNet giant Yandex reveals that Russia now boasts higher Internet penetration than any other BRICS or CIS country, but lower than that of the Baltics, with over 60 percent of Russian adults regularly using the web.

According to Yandex's data (sourced from “Public Opinion” foundation), as of the fall of 2014, 72.3 million Russians (62% of the country's adults) used the Internet at least once a month, and over 60 million went online daily. Compared to the fall of 2013, there were almost 6 million new users on the RuNet by the fall of 2014.

The Yandex Internet development report also provided data by region, highlighting factors like Internet penetration and average speed, cost of broadband and mobile Internet access, and the number of companies and organizations registered in the Yandex.Maps directory who list their own websites. As expected, in most of these categories, Moscow and Saint Petersburg were far ahead of the other Russian regions.

Internet penetration levels in various Russian regions: Moscow and Saint Petersburg top the list with close to 80% of adults regularly going online. Image from Yandex.ru.

Internet penetration levels in various Russian regions (red shows growth during 2014). Moscow and Saint Petersburg top the list with close to 80% of adults regularly going online. Image from Yandex.ru.

Controversially, this year Yandex included Crimea as one of the “Russian regions” in its report for the first time since its annexation by Russian forces. TJournal notes that almost all of Crimea's indicators are the worst among all regions, apart from the cost of fixed access: 261 RUB ($4.75) compared to the Russian average of 362 RUB ($6.60) per month as of February 2015. But in terms of accessibility and speed, Crimea is far behind the rest of Russia, and its mobile Internet access is the poorest among all regions (likely due to the contested mobile frequencies, some of which are still owned by Ukrainian providers). The Crimean IT industry has also been in dire straits because of Western sanctions, with many companies cutting access to their services for the peninsula.

Number of online media websites by region (purple shows growth, grey shows decline). Moscow at the top, Crimea at the bottom and the only "region" showing a decline. Image from Yandex.ru.

Number of online media websites by region (purple shows growth, grey shows decline). Moscow at the top, Crimea at the bottom and the only “region” showing a decline. Image from Yandex.ru.

Crimea was also the only “region” in Russia where the number of active Internet media declined during the year, likely due to the crackdown on Crimean Tatar and other local media, which were forced to re-register as Russian media entities, with many already shut down or facing closure.

Overall, Yandex found about 4,500 active media websites in Russia in February 2015, with a quarter of them operating in Moscow. Together, these websites publish close to 100 thousand news stories per day.

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