Russia now has its own collaborative content discovery service for the Web, SurfingBird.ru. The site, inspired by the StumbleUpon concept, appeared just weeks ago and is still in the beta phase. Its distinctive ‘share’ button has begun spreading among Russian websites including some important ones like RuTube.ru, the top Russian video hosting service.

Among a variety of social recommendation concepts, SurfingBird offers registered users an application to discover new sites based on declared interests and hobbies as well as on the ratings of like-minded members of the community.

“Today with search engines or social networks, you can reach only a small part of Web potential,” SurfingBird co-founder Sergey Shalayev told East-West Digital News. “With SurfingBird.ru, you can find sites offering high value content, but which you would never have found with Yandex or Google because they are not optimized for search engines. This is especially true for sites about photo, video, and other artistic activities.”

“It’s a question of trust between the people in the community rather than trust in a search company with a monopolistic situation,” adds Shalayev.

The founders told EWDN that the service is and will remain free, but the potential for advertising is strong. “Our system will meet the needs of advertisers seeking to launch highly targeted campaigns based on both declared and behavioral data.”

The American StumbleUpon has grown into a major traffic provider for blogs and sites. “Of referring traffic from social media sources [from 2009 to 2010], 44% came from Facebook, 41% came from StumbleUpon, 6.7% came from Digg, 5.13% came from Twitter, and 2% came from Reddit,” revealed a recent study by Lijit.com, a Boulder, Colorado based company providing audience analytics and marketing tools.

StumbleUpon recently raised $17 million in Series B funding.

SurfingBird was initially funded by two Western business angels, one based in Moscow, the other in Barcelona.