Lawmakers may restrict state purchases of licensed software

Ilya Khrennikov
October 5, 2016

Russia is taking another step to reduce dependence on Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. technologies in the country’s $3 billion software market amid political tensions with the U.S.

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is drafting a bill to restrict government agencies from buying licensed software, giving preference to open-source software. This would complement legislation that curbed state purchases of foreign programs last year, restricting the choice to about 2,000 local software makers.

"Many local software firms are offering products based on foreign frameworks such as IBM’s WebSphere or Microsoft’s," said Andrey Chernogorov, executive secretary of the Duma’s commission on strategic information systems. "We are seeking to close this loophole for state purchases as it causes security risks."

The end of IBM’s partnership with Russian vendor Lanit last year created a potential vulnerability for the government’s website, which is based on a proprietary IBM platform, according to an explanatory note to the draft law. Additionally, license fees that Russian software makers pay foreign partners inflate their products’ cost of use.

Some Russian regional administrations already started switching from Oracle to free database software adapted for their needs by local programmers, according to Duma documents.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging state entities and firms to go domestic amid concerns over security and reliability after U.S. firms shut down paid services in Crimea following Russia’s 2014 annexation. Tensions between Russia and the U.S. have escalated recently over failed Syria peace talks and Kremlin’s suspension of a treaty meant to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.