How to SEO & SEM your Russian sites

Russian Internet – statistics & perspectives

Runet Definition

Russian Internet sector, most often is called Runet. Generally, under this definition we understand Russian-speaking Internet, but can be understood only as the Russian Internet.
According to various definitions, Runet – can be defined as:

  • Russian Internet (Russian-speaking and / or the Russian-oriented sites) (all domain) Internet;
  • domain servers of the NIS (Newly Independent States): su, ru, am, az, by, ge, kg, kz, md, ua, ua, uz;
  • the Russian section of the Internet (this definition is supported by the Russian officials);
  • All Internet sites using domain .ru.


Runet (as in Russian-speaking) sites may be located on any domain (or do not have one), and its servers could be physically located anywhere in the world (for example Russian Wikipedia servers are physically located in Holland, and its domain is .org). Runet usually include not only WWW-sites, but also Russian-speaking e-mail mailing lists, IRC-conferences, FTP-servers, local networks of all sizes, etc. They can be used the Russian-speaking citizens of any country. Technically Runet can be identified by russian cyrillic encoding. Runet development was influenced by Russian-speaking users of FidoNet.

Another local Internet segments of the former Soviet Union started using same naming. So, for “the Kazakh Internet” use the name”Kaznet”, for Belarus -“Bynet”, Ukraine -“Uanet”, Uzbek -“Uznet”, etc. These segments are usually included in Runet, as Russian language is in common.

Runet trends and coverage

Currently, Runet is one of the fastest growing segments of the world Internet.
The number of russian Internet users (different agencies have different criteria about what is a user) shows a steady growth in the early years in XXI century.

According to Internet WorldStats, in 2000 Russia’s “Internet penetration index” was 2.1%, which calculated to 3.1 million people. In November 2006, TNS Gallup Media research agency conducted its own survey of the Russian Internet (some media called it a “first qualified” study) and estimated its monthly audience to 15 million people. By 2007 it had risen to 19.5% (28 million).

Opening Russian Internet Forum (RIF) – 2008 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: “Over the past eight years … Internet service audience has increased about 10 times, and today we have about 40 million people identifying themselves as Internet users, Runet users“.
In mid-2009 a new result show: “Internet audience among the population aged 18 years and older is 33%, or 37.5 million people.”
The World Factbook points out, that the number of Russian Internet hosts in 2010 is 10.282 million and the number Internet users as of 2009 surpassed the mark of 40 million, putting Russia on this indicator on the tenth position in the world.

Looking at the online audience of Russia’s cities: in 2009 in three Russian cities Internet penetration is over 50% – this includes Moscow (daily audience of 5.816 million), St. Petersburg (2.244 million) and Yekaterinburg (657 000), followed by Kazan, where the daily reach is 428,000 people.

Europe's Internet penetration 2011

Europe's Internet penetration 2011

In November 2009, Search Engine Yandex has published its first “Runet study”, entitled “Runet’s content” (Yandex counted Runet as Russian, Ukrainian, Belarus websites, as well as all the resources in the domains .am, .az, .by, .ge, .kg, .kz, .md, .ru, .su, .tj, .ua and .uz). According to it, by the fall of 2009 Runet had 6.5% of all web sites of the world, that is, every fifteenth site, which equals to 15 million websites. Yandex search engine index stores 140 000 gigabytes of text data (or 2.3 trillion words). Although every fourth one contains useless content (a search engine spam). 56% of all Runet websites consist of just one page, 88% of the information is concentrated in less than one percent of websites.

Modern Runet chronicles

  • 1992-1993 years – emerging Russian Internet Service Providers (ISP) market, the first participants – Demos Plus, Techno, GlasNet, SovAm Teleport, EUnet / Relcom, X-Atom, FREEnet. A mass usage of TCP/IP protocol. Organized a number of dedicated channels to Europe, including optical and satellite (in Estonia, Finland and America).
  • April 1993 – the first book about the Internet in Russian published.
  • April 7, 1994 – the day InterNIC International Network Center officially registered national domain .ru for Russia. Prior to that, in 1992 national domains have been received by Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine, in 1993 – Latvia and Azerbaijan.
  • July 27, 1994 – Ministry of Science together with the Soros financed the laying of Internet backbone between scientific organizations (South Moscow Backbone).
  • April 1995 – first off-line media website Teacher’s Newspaper founded.
  • May 1995 – the first news agency website – RBC opened.
  • September 1995 – computer programmer Andrey Gerasimov created a mechanism for trading CDs online for the first time in Russia: Internet-shop started, but almost immediately shut down due to small ROI.
  • October 3, 1995 – a first web-design studio Artem Lebedev emerged.


  • November 8, 1995 – first entertainment
  • December 1995 – for the first time preliminary results of elections to Russian parliament (Duma) published online.
  • January 18 1996 – first  Internet cafe Tetris opened in St. Petersburg.
  • March 1996 –political party Yabloko made its website – the first site of a political party in Runet.
  • April 1996 – the first country’s printed directory of Internet resources issued.
  • June 10, 1996 – first onsite – chat
  • September 26, 1996 – founded the first Russian Search Engine Rambler.
  • December 19, 1996 – a first Russian music portal, later
  • March 1997 – first RIF (Russian Internet Forum).
  • September 23, 1997 – new Search Engine Yandex founded. It makes search based on a morphological analysis.
  • October 1, 1998 – a free mail-service, managed to become a leader in number of users, and maintains this position until today.
  • November 20, 1998 – first money transfer in Webmoney, the first electronic payment system in Runet.
  • December 1 1998 – – the first professional sports internet media in Russia.
  • May 20, 2001 – Russian Wikipedia launched .
  • October 1 2004 – first public video hosting Rambler Vision.
  • 2005 – the daily audience of Yandex is more than 3 million people, more than 18 million monthly.
  • January 2006 – Google’s Moscow office opened.
  • September 17, 2007 – one million registrations in .ru domain.
  • October 2007 – Dmitry Medvedev announced “Internet to school” project completion (59 000 schools).
  • February 13, 2008 – Ministry of Information Technology and Communications announced Communication in every home program. According to it, every Russian has an opportunity for Broadband Internet access in six months after the application, established by the state prices.
  • “June11, 2008 – President Dmitry Medvedev approved the establishment of Russian-speaking domain .рф bill.
  • February 25 2010 – Over 500 thousand articles in Russian Wikipedia.
  • April 6, 2010 38% Internet penetration is shown in the survey.
  • April 21 2010 RIF conference surveys: 160 million mailboxes, 92% of all Runet users are using social networks.
  • Three million domain in the zone .ru are registered.
  • October 2010: Harvard University published a study of Russian blogosphere.
  • May 2011: Search engine Yandex holds successful public IPO at NASDAQ.
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