Zuckerberg visits Russia to increase Facebook presence

02.10.2012 - 14:15

The Facebook founder met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on 1 October as he visited Moscow to boost the social network’s presence in the country and look out for new talents. His visit was also to attend the Facebook Hack event in the city.

After the meeting, Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook wall “Good conversation with Prime Minister Medvedev,” and added a picture of the two at the Russian leader’s residence.

“As you know we do not just have gas and oil and gold and diamonds in Russia but we also have an IT industry,” Medvedev told Zuckerberg in comments published by the government.

Facebook has an estimated five million users in the country, meaning that Russia is one of the few major countries in the world where the social network is not number one. Russian users prefer its rival Vkontakte.

The CEO explained in a TV interview that “I am here primarily to talk to the entrepreneurs and engineers who are here building things and about innovation in general. I’m here to help and encourage people to build stuff.” However, according to local media, he is trying to tempt the best Russian programmers away from Moscow to work on higher salaries in the US.

Facebook’s mission is crucial now that the country is warning citizens on the possible influences that foreign sites could generate. The site has two main roles in the region, a citizens' tool for their private lives, and also a public instrument for politicians.

Two of the largest investors in the social site are Russian (Alisher Usmanov and Yuri Milner) and during the 20 minute gathering Zuckerberg and Medvedev talked about the importance of Facebook in politics, like its role in the current American campaigns. They also discussed copyright rules and high-tech business and the CEO gave the Russian leader a T-shirt.

This is not Facebook’s first attempt to expand its presence in the Russian market. Also this month, the company signed a deal with the mobile phone operator Beeline to provide a free application to subscribers.