Russia’s main media holding company, controlled by state-owned energy giant Gazprom, will launch an app similar to the social network for video sharing TikTok, the group’s chief executive said on Wednesday.
The business daily Kommersant quoted Gazprom-Media CEO Alexander Zharov as saying that the holding company had bought a service called “Ya Molodets” (“I’m cool”).
Zharov said the app was developed with the support of the Innopraktika foundation, an organization run by Katerina Tikhonova, one of the alleged daughters of President Vladimir Putin.
Gazprom-Media “will use the project software to accelerate the creation of a new video service for Russian bloggers,” Zharov said, adding that it will be launched in two years.
The application will support the sharing of short vertical videos, similar to the Chinese social network TikTok.
Zharov took over Gazprom-Media earlier this year after stepping down as head of Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor that was behind the failed blockade of the messaging service Telegram.
Gazprom-Media is one of the largest media organizations in Russia and owns some of its most viewed TV channels and a variety of radio stations.
Earlier this month, Zharov announced that Gazprom-Media will launch two YouTube-like websites in the next two years, one of which will be an enhanced version of the Rutube streaming service, a platform aimed at Russian speakers that Gazprom-Media acquired in 2008.
On Wednesday, Zharov said the holding company had been working for “about a year to modernize it and make it no worse than YouTube in terms of tools.”
In recent years, YouTube has become an increasingly popular platform for young Russians, with some of the most-viewed channels racking up tens of millions of views.
It has also become an independent news source and an alternative to the main television channels that are mostly under state control.
The authorities have continuously stepped up their efforts to tighten control over the Russian segment of the internet under the pretext of fighting extremism online.
Earlier Wednesday, the lower house of parliament passed a law that would allow internet platforms, including YouTube, to be blocked if they are found guilty of “censorship” and “discrimination.”