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16 May, 2017 09:33

Ukraine bans most popular social networks because they are Russian-owned

Ukraine bans most popular social networks because they are Russian-owned

The most popular social networks in Ukraine are now banned, in Ukraine. Russian-owned Vkontakte (VK.com), search engine Yandex, and Odnoklassniki (OK.ru) are used by more than half of the Ukrainian population, and are far more popular than rivals Facebook and Google.

The decision by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko to issue the ban as part of anti-Russian sanctions could prove contraversial domestically.

VK is more popular than Facebook in Ukraine, with an estimated 15 million users, more than a third of the country's population.

Odnoklassniki (which translates as Classmates) is also widely popular, as is the Mail.ru email service, which has also been banned.

The social networks were blocked because of sanctions imposed against their parent company, Russian IT giant Mail.Ru Group.

Kiev also banned Russian IT company Yandex, which offers similar services to Google – search engine, maps and various apps for smartphones.

Popularly known as Russian Google, Yandex is one of the top five most popular global search engines. Yandex has over 11 million monthly users in Ukraine, a quarter of the country's population.

Russian anti-virus software makers Kaspersky Lab, one of the leading global internet security companies, and DrWeb have also been banned.

VK.com, Mail.ru and Yandex.ua are the most visited sites in Ukraine besides Google and YouTube.

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.

In March, Ukraine imposed sanctions against all five operations of Russian state-owned banks, the Ukrainian offices of Sberbank and VTB, BM Bank (VTB's subsidiary), Prominvestbank (VEB's subsidiary) and VS Bank (Sberbank's subsidiary). They are prohibited from withdrawing capital from Ukraine in favor of the persons connected with them.

Other Russian companies banned in Ukraine include airline Aeroflot, Russian Helicopters, and state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.