Location Ukraine Ukraine

Ukraine Joins North Korea As It Bans Country’s Most Popular Social Networks

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko just issued another set of targeted sanctions against Russian Internet corporations, effectively banning Vkontakte (VK.com) and Odnoklasniki (OK.ru). VK is Ukraine’s largest social network and the country’s second most visited website after Google. For VK, the Ukrainian market is the second largest after Russia. The social networks were blocked because of sanctions imposed against their parent company Mail.Ru Group.

Kiev also banned Russian IT company Yandex, which offers similar services to Google – search engine, maps, cloud storage and various apps for smartphones. Russian anti-virus software makers Kaspersky Lab and DrWeb have also been banned. Ukraine also prohibited several Russian media and TV channels, including Rossiya Segodnya, RBC, VGTRK, TNT and several others. The ban includes blocking of assets, ban on transactions and broadcasting. Kiev’s updated blacklist includes 1,228 individuals and 468 companies. Those who had already been banned saw an extension from one year to permanent.

«I doubt that this will turn into anything but a minor inconvenience for Ukrainian citizens, who will quickly adjust to the reality of using VPNs to access the dankest memes and hottest music (VK is also widely used as a free music and pirated video service, not to mention a porn repository). The banning of such an immensely popular resource is a measure that’s unabashedly totalitarian. To see this happen in post-Maidan Ukraine, where the current government came to power as a result of mass protests started by a journalist’s Facebook post is hardly, is amusing but hardly surprising, since much has been pointing to the state’s increasing desire to control the public and private lives of its citizens both directly through the Security Service and by giving far-right groups a carte blanche to attack and harrass the regime’s enemies», — says Ukrainian social activist and active social media user Mikhail Khokhlovych on his Fb-page.

«Lessons of the Arab Spring and Euromaidan are learned by Ukrainian government: the biggest social network where Ukrainians are present is prohibited in Ukraine», — says Ukrainian philosopher Mikhail Minakov.

«If Ukraine had banned Facebook, this would have put it in the same line as North Korea, China, Iran and Tajikistan – rogue states, dictatorships, “the axis of evil” as George Bush would put. Just imagine the shock of John McCain, one of the Maidan’s most vocal supporters and a proponent of US military involvement in Ukraine (or anywhere, really) , if he found that Ukraine turned from a fledgling and struggling democracy to a “repressive regime” in under three years, yet another case of a failed spring. But Poroshenko blocked a social media network that’s more popular in the country but virtually unknown outside of the CIS, which will give Western leaders the leeway to pretend that such totalitarian measures are means to protect the government from an external enemy and not its own people», — assumes Mr. Khokhlovych.


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