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Ukrainians send petition to leader opposing ban on Russian VKontakte social network

May 19, 17:13 UTC+3 KIEV

A total of 16,000,000 people in Ukraine use Vkontakte

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© Sergei Konkov/TASS

KIEV, May 19. /TASS/. The number of Ukrainians signing a petition to the President Pyotr Poroshenko against banning the Russian VKontakte social network has been growing rapidly. In just a few days, over 13,500 people signed the petition lodged on the presidential administration website, while 25,000 signatures are needed for the president to review the petition.

"It (VKontakte) is a huge advertising platform, which helps to trade the Ukrainian-made goods and content. If we lose this platform, it will negatively affect our producers," the petition’s author Anatoly Tkachenko said to justify the need to review the decision on banning the social network.

On May 16, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed an expanded blacklist consisting of 1,228 Russian individuals and 468 companies. This time, a number of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) members, judges of the Russian Constitutional Court, journalists and TV channels were added to the blacklist. Besides, sanctions were imposed on Russia’s VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, as well as the Mail.ru and Yandex internet companies.

The banned Russian internet companies have a significantly large audience in Ukraine. Yandex claims to have as many as 11,000,000 Ukrainian users, while about 25,000,000 Ukrainian citizens use the Mail.ru platforms for communication. A total of 16,000,000 people in Ukraine use Vkontakte, while the number of Odnoklassniki users totals around 9,500,000.

Poroshenko said that he would delete his personal accounts on the banned social networks and called upon Ukrainians to follow his example. However, many international organizations accused the Ukrainian president of violating freedom of speech.

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