Google Access Blocked in Eastern Ukraine by Russia-Backed Separatists

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Russian-backed separatists in a breakaway region of eastern Ukraine have blocked access to the search engine Google, their leader said on Friday, citing what he calls “disinformation”.

In a message posted on his Telegram channel, Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), accused Google of promoting “violence against all Russians” and said that its “handlers from the US¬†government” were to blame.

“If Google stops pursuing its criminal policy and returns to the mainstream of law, morality and common sense, there will be no obstacles to its work,” he said. He did not provide evidence to support his assertions.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since sending troops into Ukraine on February 24, Russia and its proxies in eastern Ukraine have accused Western companies of spreading anti-Russian propaganda and taking a one-sided stance on the conflict.

Russia banned Facebook and Instagram in March after a court found Facebook-owner Meta guilty of “extremist activity”. Moscow had already curbed access to Facebook for restricting Russian media outlets’ access to the platform.

The DPR and separate Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) followed suit in blocking Facebook and Instagram, aligning themselves with Russia’s policy on the US-based social networks.

Earlier this week, a Moscow court fined Google RUB 21 billion (nearly Rs. 2,900 crore) for failing to remove content concerning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the nation’s telecommunications regulator said Monday.

Regulator Roskomnadzor said the Google-owned video platform YouTube had failed to block “false information” on the offensive in Ukraine, “extremist and terrorist propaganda” and content “calling on minors to participate in unauthorised demonstrations.”

The regulator said that as this was a repeat conviction for Google, the fine was based on its annual revenue in Russia.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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