09:00 GMT25 February 2021
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    Moscow is not going to take any countermeasures in response to Kiev’s blanket ban on a number of Russian websites, including the popular social media sites VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, as well as the major search engine Yandex, Russian Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said on Wednesday, adding that Ukrainians will retaliate themselves.

    “The whole ‘payback’, I’m positive, will come from the Ukrainian people,” Nikiforov said at the Information Technology of Industrial Russia (CIPR) IT conference.

    Neither is Russia going to render any assistance to the sanction-hit companies, the minister noted.

    “Those entities are major and strong players who do not need any help. Their capitalization amounts to billions of dollars,” Nikiforov observed.

    On May 16, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko approved the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to expand the list of sanctioned Russian individuals and legal entities. In particular, Ukraine has imposed sanctions on a number of Russian media sites, including VKontakte and Odnoklassniki. According to Kiev, Ukraine will need $1 billion and about two years to block the websites.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the same day that Moscow regarded Kiev's decision to expand sanctions against Russian individuals and legal entities as another manifestation of an unfriendly and shortsighted policy against the country.

    Interestingly, Vkontakte boasts a reach of nearly 80 percent of Ukrainian internet users leaving behind Facebook with its 54 percent. Odnoklassniki came close with 47 percent in April, according to Kantar TNS CMeter. These figures, not to mention the Russian media’s more liberal music and video publishing policies, can explain the Ukrainians’ frustration spurred by the government’s restrictive measure.

    However, the technical ban on those media outlets appeared to be prone to skirting by ordinary users.

    On May 22, the Ukrainian presidential administration acknowledged that while it is impossible to completely cut access to the aforementioned services, it aims to reduce their audiences.

    The CIPR is the first IT conference in Russia that provides a platform for dialogue between the industry and defense sector, IT professionals and venture investors. It takes place on May 23-26 in the innovation-oriented town of Innopolis in the Republic of Tatarstan and is supported by Rostec, a Russian corporation established in 2007 to facilitate the development, production and export of high-tech industrial products designed for civilian and military applications. It comprises more than 700 organizations.


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    Internet, ban, social networks, Yandex, VKontakte, Petro Poroshenko, Nikolai Nikiforov, Russia, Ukraine
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