Google Showing Ukraine’s Crimea as ‘Russian’ in Russian Territory
Google has been censoring 70 percent of the websites blacklisted by Russia
Amid threats of being suspended in Russia, Google has become embroiled in a series of disputes with the Kremlin that may be causing the international technology company to bend to Moscow’s pressure and adhere to its growing demands, RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty reported.
On Feb. 7, Russian media reported that Google has begun to censor search results in Russia after a protracted standoff with the country’s powerful communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. One anonymous official at the agency claimed the U.S.-based company was blocking some 70 percent of the websites blacklisted by Russia.
Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky told state news agency RIA on Feb. 7 that “we have developed a constructive dialogue with Google and this dialogue currently satisfies us.”
Meanwhile, Vasily Piskaryov, the chairman of the Russian Duma’s Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, said after meeting with a Google representative the same day that the company was taking extra measures to ensure its maps in Russia (incorrectly) display Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as Russian territory.
Russia illegally seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegitimate by at least 100 countries, after Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed from power by protests.
Piskaryov said Marina Zhunich, Google’s director for government relations, told him during the Moscow meeting that the so-called “incorrect information” that some Google users in Russia may see was the result of a technical error and that resolving this “was her priority.”
When Crimea is accessed on Google Maps in Russia, Crimea is shown as belonging to Russia — at least most of the time. There are some reports that people see it marked as disputed territory on some smartphones and other devices.
Meanwhile, Google has also been following Russian prerogatives on censoring other search results for the Russian population.
In the latest high-profile case, Ukraine alleged on Feb. 6 that Roskomnadzor was pressuring YouTube to remove a video showing a Crimean Tatar activist being detained on the Crimean Peninsula.
In a statement, Amnesty International said “Youtube should uphold its responsibilities according to international human rights standards and push back on the Russian government’s censorship demands. YouTube’s stated company values include protecting freedom of expression and freedom of information and we call on them to uphold these values today.”