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Ukraine’s mobile operator Kievstar says it is not planning to stop operations in Crimea

KIEV, August 03, /ITAR-TASS/. Kievstar, one of Ukraine’s biggest mobile operators, is not planning to stop operations in Crimea, a Kievstar CEO said on Sunday.

“We will switch off [cellular communications in Crimea - Itar-Tass] only in case of a force majeure. We are not going to do it willfully,” Pyotr Chernyshov told Itar-Tass, commenting on the Crimean authorities’ allegations that the Ukrainian operator was planning to stops its operations in Crimea next week.

On Saturday, Crimea’s Minister of Communications Dmitry Polonsky said that Ukrainian cellular operators were to stop operations in Crimea early next week. He said this information had come from “sources in Ukraine’s mobile operators.” He added however he did not know whether “it will be one operator or all of them.”

Kievstar’s press service said the company was still serving clients in Crimea despite “ongoing technical and organizational difficulties” due to the fact that Crimean contractors and lessors were failing to make payments. A number of base stations, according to Kievstar, have already been switched off for non-payment.

“It leads to gradual degrading of the quality of communications. It is a growing process which is beyond our control. We have officially informed our clients and the regulator of that,” the press service said.

Ukrainian mobile operators can work freely in Crimea till the end of the current year. After the so-called transition period is over, they will have to be registered as a legal entity in Russia and obtain licenses from Russia’s federal oversight service in the sphere of communications.