German Klimenko wants Apple and other U.S. tech companies to pay more taxes. German Klimenko wants Apple and other U.S. tech companies to pay more taxes.
Photo: iPhones.ru

Russia’s new internet czar loves his Apple devices. Google the name German Klimenko and up pops a series of pictures, many of him either at a MacBook or using an iPhone.

But that doesn’t stop the tough-talking, Cold War-minded Klimenko from wanting to suck more tax-generated revenue out of Cupertino and other American technology companies.

Klimenko shared his interest in forcing Apple and Google to pay more taxes during a 90-minute interview with BloombergBusiness, which characterized his push as a way to “help level the playing field” for Russian tech companies, like Yandex an Mail.ru.

“We are breeding the cow and they are milking it,” Klimenko told Bloomberg’s Ilya Khrennikov and Stepan Kravchenko.

Klimenko, of course, does the bidding of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has called the Internet a “CIA project” where U.S. companies serve the intelligence needs of the government.

You don’t need to be up on Russian politicos to be intrigued by one player. Andrey Lugovoi, one of two former KGB agents accused of poisoning to death a former agent in London in 2006, is now a member of parliament and is the sponsor of a bill that would apply an 18 percent value-added tax (VAT) to App Store and iTunes purchases.

This is not much different than the tax applied in other European countries. The tax would be paid by the customers, not the companies.

The bill lists several categories of digital products and services, which domestic companies currently pay VAT, but foreign companies don’t.

The Bloomberg piece is a good read if you want to understand how messy the politics can be between technology and a country that tries to control the flow of information.


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