Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Thursday that the Internet is "a CIA project," adding that Moscow needed to "fight" to resist this U.S. influence.
Russia is keen to moderate the information super-highway, where opponents of the government who are barred from national television amass their support.
Speaking at a media forum in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Putin said that the Internet originally was a "CIA project" and "is still developing as such," according to a report by The Associated Press.
Putin said Russia needed to "fight for its interests online" in the face of this influence, the AP said.
His comments come at a nadir in U.S.-Russia relations in the post-Cold War era, fueled by tensions over the Ukraine crisis.
Russia's parliament this week passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year.
He also made comments about the Russian search engine Yandex, which is bigger than Google in Russia. He criticized the company for registering in the Netherlands "not only for tax reasons but for other considerations, too," sending its shares plummeting 5 percent at the Nasdaq's opening Thursday.
— Alexander Smith
The Associated Press contributed to this report.