Yandex research analysts recently released the list of the top 2015 queries for people, events, and phenomena in a number of categories. Not only does this list remind us what happened during the previous year but also what interested people the most. From the top movies of the year to the top searches for people, there’s a lot to learn about Russian search engine use and interests.

By clicking the links in the categories below you will be redirected to the Yandex search results (in Russian) for that specific query. Images will help you decipher what’s going on with the particular link but this blog will also walk through some of the highlights of the lists.

The domestic and international events are pretty straight forward. Users in Russia were most concerned about the Russian plane crash in Egypt, which is still being searched as the story develops. In addition to the plane crash, a number of other topics also made international news including “Putin’s escape.” The translation of “Putin’s escape” is admittedly quite comical because anyone following the story knows that Putin  disappeared from the public eye in March 2015, which concerned the media and people worldwide. However, wording it as his escape is actually a better description of what went on, plus it adds a fun element that makes me picture Putin sneaking through tunnels. To clarify a few of the searches that are not well known worldwide, the Immortal Regiment event and Victory Day searches are related to celebrations and recognition of veterans and Russian war history.  Russians are very patriotic and show a great deal of respect to their ancestors who served the Soviet Union and Russia.

When it comes to searches for people, Russian politicians, authors, and celebrities dominated the list. Athletes were not in the top ten but are still a popular search.   Demis Roussos and Emily Clarke both made the list indicating Russians’ interest in foreign celebrities.  Usually some sort of event prompts more searches for a particular person but the list generally reflects who users idolize or find interesting.  Of course, Boris Nemtsov was the number one man of interest for 2015 following the death of the well known politician who is well known as an opposition leader and important figure in Russia’s history of capitalism.  The number one female search for the year was also associated with the death of a celebrity, Russian singer Jeanna Friske died in June 2015 drawing a greater search interest from users who wanted to learn what happened and mourn the loss.

For premieres and launches, Russians are definitely most excited about new smartphones on the market. Given the rapid growth of mobile internet use (over 50% of Internet users access the web through their phones), this doesn’t come as a surprise.  Russians were also excited about a new Lada car, a tank, and some sort of system for keeping freight trucks in check called “Plato.” I’m most excited about this Moscow oceanarium. It looks awesome!

Russians’ internet related searches are pretty fascinating. To start the “People’s Memory” website is a site dedicated to Soviet World War II history from 1941-1945 including stories, historical information, and a search component to learn information about individuals who served. Again, this goes back to Russian patriotism but also the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory.  It’s pretty interesting to see how technology is being incorporated into the topic. I’d love to look at the analytics for the People’s Memory website to see what sort of users are going on the site.  The website appears to be a pretty big contrast to the rest of the list including videos on braiding rubber bands and the blue/white dress controversy.  Although this braiding seems to be more of a gimp phenomenon. Most importantly gimp bracelets are so hot right now in Russia. Time to get to Russia if you’re in the homemade bracelet game.

The sports related searches are to be expected. Russians are big time sports fans and are especially into hockey and soccer. The majority of the top sports searches were for specific team Russia hockey games against international competition, namely Canada and the US. Russians are also into their local league frequently checking the KHL standings. Interestingly, this search list taught me about the Russian summer games for college students who compete in a number of sporting events.

Most of the movies that were popular worldwide were also equally popular in Russia with 50 Shades of Grey topping the searches -obviously. Russians enjoy their local shows, as do I. The talk show “Let them talk” is up there on my favorites too.  Still, the list seems to be dominated more by foreign shows like the Biggest Loser and Game of Thrones.

Gaming continues to be a major industry in Russia and one that draws a lot of search queries from users who are interested in particular games.  Yandex users search for online games 4 million times a month in addition to these individual queries for specific games. Russian gaming revenue stands at $1.3 billion, which is expected to grow 5.2% by 2018. A new multi-user action game, in which users control the cell on a map of a petri dish, called Agar.io had a huge impact on the Russian gaming scene this past year.

Compared to last year’s top Yandex searches, Russians’ interest appear to be relatively similar but certainly major events in the year influenced a good portion of the searches in both 2014 and 2015.  For instance, the Olympics clearly dominated the sports category last year but it’s still obvious that Russians love learning about and supporting their hockey teams.  Jeanne Friske was the most popular female search two years in a row but otherwise Russians searched more for new people in 2015.  Games of Thrones remains on top for the most popular TV shows and there are definitely other consistencies with Russian media consumption the past few years. It appears the gaming interests of Russians had some major shifts over the course of the year, as the lists show two diverse sets of popular searches.  Check in next week for a blog comparing Russian search trends to our local trends in the US!