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Senate speaker wonders why EU underreacts to Kiev's recent social networks ban

Russia's senate speaker also said it was getting increasingly difficult to comment on developments in Ukraine

MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. The Ukrainian authorities grossly violate the rights of the Ukrainian people by banning Russian social networks, Internet resources, TV channels and books, the speaker of the Russian Federation Council upper house of parliament said in an interview with the Izvestia daily on Tuesday.

It is getting increasingly difficult to comment on developments in Ukraine, as deterioration of the country’s political system is gathering momentum, while moves of its authorities are getting unpredictable, Valentina Matviyenko said in the interview.

"For example they just blocked Russian social networking systems, the Yandex search engine, Whether Kiev is doing this for the sake of political self-protection or for some other reasons, but definitely not in the interests of the people and the country," Matviyenko said. "All the above listed bans grossly violate the rights of the Ukrainian citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of access to information," the speaker said.

She also pointed to a weak reaction from the European Union to the recent moves of the Ukrainian authorities. "This is not just an internal affair of Ukraine. These are the values that the European Union is so actively advocating for. So why do they underreact?" she asked.

Focusing on inter-parliamentary cooperation of Russia and Ukraine, the speaker said it was nonexistent. "As for parliamentary contacts with Ukrainian colleagues, they are nonexistent at the moment. Attempts to restart a dialogue have been futile. But this is their choice," Matviyeno said.

Last week, 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 have been added to the blacklist.

Besides, sanctions have been imposed on several Russian companies, including 1C, ABBYY and their Ukrainian subsidiaries. In addition, Russia’s VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, and Yandex internet companies have been banned.

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 of Ukrainian citizens use the platforms for communication. A total of 16,000,000 people in Ukraine use the Vkontakte social network, while the number of Odnoklassniki users totals around 9,500,000.