Updates to this story
While weirdie beardie open saucers will be cheering, it is worthwhile to point out that Tsar Putin is jolly cross with Microsoft at the moment.
For a while he had a cracking good method of dealing with people who didn't like him much.
Coppers would appear on the doorstep of foreign NGOs or dissident organisations and say that they believed that computers in the organisation were using pirated Microsoft software. To make sure everything was pirated, the coppers would take all the computer gear out of an organisation and make it unable to function.
Microsoft was not aware of the crackdown and when it found out it was furious. What it did was give such groups free licences which meant that Putin's coppers were powerless to nick the computer gear.
No one is arguing that given the extreme budget problems in Russia, Linux would be the best way forward. However the timing of Putin's announcement sends a message to foreign companies that unless they toe the line, they will lose government contracts in what is a huge market.
The introduction of Linux in government should begin in the second quarter of 2012. It will mean that every government post in the Russian Federation will be forbidden to hire staff or allocate cash unless they use free software.
There have been many moves within Russia to attempt to get Open Sauce software accepted. But they have generally fallen flat on their face. With Putin's backing it seems to now be a certainty, unless of course he changes his mind. All it would take is Steve Ballmer on his hands and knees begging for forgiveness and promising never to make the Tsar/Czar/Kaiser/Caesar cross again.