MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin has mocked the Internet as a CIA project and pledged to protect Russia's interests online.
The Kremlin has been anxious to exert greater control over the Internet, which opposition activists - barred from national television - have used to promote their ideas and organize protests.
Russia's parliament this week passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year. Also, businessmen close to Putin now control Russia's leading social media network, VKontakte.
Speaking Thursday at a media forum in St. Petersburg, Putin said that the Internet originally was a "CIA project" and "is still developing as such."
To resist that influence, Putin said, Russia needs to "fight for its interests" online.