MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he would not consider restricting Internet access for Russian users but warned of a sharp rise in cyber attacks on state domains since the Ukraine crisis began.
His remarks were intended to douse speculation that he plans a crackdown on use of the Internet - which he has called a "CIA project" and is used by opponents to organize protests against him - as tensions mount with the West over the Ukraine crisis.
"We do not intend to limit access to the Internet, to put it under total control, to nationalize the Internet," Putin told a meeting of his advisory Security Council which groups top state, defense and security officials.
He said such restrictions would contradict the basic principles of a democratic state and he was "not even considering" such measures.
Putin said Russia security services had detected a constant growth in cyber attacks, particularly in the last six months, the period in which the crisis in Ukraine has worsened.
He added the intensity of the cyber attacks "depends on the current international situation".
"We need to improve greatly the security of domestic communication networks and information resources, primarily those used by state structures," he said, without saying how Russia planned to do this.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Writing by Timothy Heritage, editing by Elizabeth Piper)