Elections, viruses and Trump: What Russians searched for online in 2016
According to Russia’s most popular search engine Yandex, three topics captured the attention of the country’s internet users above all others in 2016: the elections in Russia and the United States and the swine flu.
On Dec. 8 Yandex published a study (in Russian) of user inquiries in 2016, dividing them into categories. In the Events category the first two positions are occupied by September's parliamentary elections in Russia and by November's presidential elections in the U.S.
After the domestic and overseas elections, Russians were interested mostly in the swine flu. This year a large-scale flu epidemic hit Russia and the subtype A (H1N1), the so-called swine flu, was identified in most of the ill. However, the flu was not the only virus that interested Russians. The top 10 also included another virus – the Zika fever, which has spread to various parts of Latin America after an outbreak that began in Brazil in 2015
Trump, DiCaprio and Obodzinsky
Russians' attention to the U.S. elections also determined their most popular man of the year: U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. He is followed by the star of The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio. In third place, and less predictable, is Valery Obodzinsky, who was popular in the USSR in the 1970s. The outburst of interest in the Soviet singer was the result of a 2015 TV series called Eti Glaza Naprotiv, which is named after one of Obodzinsky's songs.
The most popular woman among Russian internet users was TV star and socialite Ksenia Sobchak, or the "social lioness," as Russian showbiz publications call her. She is the daughter of former St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, in whose administration Russian President Vladimir Putin began his government career after leaving the KGB.
Second and third place went to TV hostess Olga Buzova and Soviet model Regina Zbarskaya, who was helped by Krasnaya Korolyeva, a TV series dedicated to her.
The U.S. elections also drew Russian internet users' attention to American women. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's spouse Melania were also among the top 10 inquiries.
The new iPhone and a dancing millionaire
Among those subjects to feature in searches for the first time in 2016, first place went to the new iPhone 7. It was more popular than Moscow's new transportation system, the Moscow Central Ring train, as well as the Renault Kaptur, which recently appeared on the Russian market.
"Internet events" for Russians also included the vote on the cities that should be depicted on the new 200 and 2,000 ruble notes and petitions on the change.org site. In the middle of the search ranking was the video of 50-year-old Italian millionaire Gianluca Vacchi happily dancing with his young model wife Giorgia Gabriele.
Among feature films, Russians were mostly interested in Hollywood blockbusters such as Suicide Squad and Deadpool. The only Russian film to feature near the top of the search ranking was The Crew, a remake of an eponymous Soviet cult disaster film. The most popular foreign TV series was Game of Thrones. According to Yandex, the TV series' upcoming season interested internet users even more than the U.S. elections or even the new iPhone.
Memes and Medvedev
Among internet memes, Russians were mostly puzzled by "Louboutins," a name Russians often use for footwear created by French designer Christian Louboutin. The shoes owe their internet popularity to a video made by the Russian band Leningrad, in which they play the leading role.
Another top position was occupied by "Peskov's red pants" (that is, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, who was photographed at a car wash wearing bright red pants and Ugg boots). There was also Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's infamous comment to Crimean pensioners that "there's no money, but you hang in there," as well as the proposal to rename Americano coffee “Russiano,” an idea that Medvedev took a liking to.
Explaining the ranking's methodology, Yandex says that although the number of searches corresponds to people's interest in a particular subject, it does not help determine the most interesting subjects. The list of popular subjects has not changed for many years: Users are usually interested in traffic jams and the weather. The selected subjects of the year are issues in which interest has drastically increased in 2016, meaning this ranking is essentially based on “outbursts” of curiosity.