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Ukrainian president rejects petition to restore access to Russian social network VKontakte

June 30, 4:57 UTC+3 KIEV

The petition, registered on May 16, gathered more than 25,000 signatures in less than a month

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© Sergei Konkov/TASS

KIEV, June 30. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko on Thursday rejected a petition demanding that he lifted his ban on Russian social networking site VKontakte.

"I consider it impossible to support the online petition to lift the ban on the VKontakte web portal," reads a statement, published by the president’s press service.

The president explained the move by the need to protect national interests, accusing social networking sites of manipulating the public opinion and disseminating dangerous information, including promotion of suicide via the so-called "groups of death." In addition, Poroshenko claimed that Russian special services used those websites to gather information about Ukraine and its citizens.

The petition, registered on May 16, gathered more than 25,000 signatures in less than a month.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s High Administrative Court rejected a lawsuit by student Nikita Yevstifeyev, who demanded the presidential decree be declared unlawful.

The Kiev authorities’ decision to impose sanctions on the Russian social networks and other internet resources, as well as on the 1C accounting software, lead to popular discontent last month. Ukrainians filed about 60 petitions to various state bodies in a bid to lift the ban.

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 another social network, Odnoklassniki, is frequented by about 9,500,000 users.

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