KIEV, May 29. /TASS/. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on Monday explained its searches in the Kiev and Odessa offices of the Russian search engine Yandex by suspicion that it leaked personal information of Ukrainians to the Russian government.
"Law-enforcement bodies established that the company’s management illegally gathered, stored and handed over to Russia personal information about Ukrainian citizens, such as names, occupation, lifestyle, address, sources of income, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and accounts on social networking sites," the SBU press service said.
SBU claimed that Yandex was particularly interested in information about state officials and law-enforcement officers.
"During searches, SBU officers found equipment and documents that would undergo further examination," the press service said.
According to earlier statements by SBU, the company searched Yandex offices in Kiev and Odessa on charges of state treason. Those found guilty face a prison term ranging between 12 and 15 years, and their property will be confiscated.
Yandex was among the companies that were blacklisted by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decree on May 16. The decree imposed sanctions on many Russian media outlets and IT companies, including Yandex, Mail.ru group and its social networking sites VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, TV channels RBC, TV Tsentr, VGTRK, NTV Plus and Zvezda, internet security companies Dr.Web and Kaspersky Lab.
Kiev accuses Russian social networks of "illegally gathering information, conducting propaganda, recruiting agents and spreading pirated content." Under the presidential decree, Ukrainian internet service providers must block access to Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki to all users in Ukraine.